As Bonn this week hosts the COP23 climate talks, a new report claims that Germany’s Energiewende programme “has made things worse for the climate”.
The report has been published by Energy for Humanity, a non-profit organisation founded by documentary filmmaker Robert Stone, Swiss entrepreneur Daniel Aegerter and environmental activist Kirsty Gogan.
Gogan said: “Germany does not deserve its reputation as a climate leader.”
She argues that in terms of absolute greenhouse gas emissions, “Germany is by far the largest emitter in Europe. Germany alone emits 18 per cent of total emissions. Germany is not decarbonising as fast as other large emitters. Furthermore, by exporting electricity generated by fossil fuels, Germany is significantly increasing the CO2-intensity of neighbouring countries’ electricity consumption.”
Energy for Humanity believes that a mix of nuclear and hydropower are the best sources of power to complement renewables. With this in mind, Gogan praises France for its “timely decision to not force accelerated shut-downs on its nuclear fleet”. This she said means the country “is bound to stay on top as one of the most decarbonized nations, while Germany falls further behind. The UK has demonstrated that real climate progress is possible with a policy that supports all low carbon sources including renewables and nuclear.”
Other countries praised by Energy For Humanity are Switzerland and Sweden, which have a mix of hydro and nuclear, and Norway, which relies heavily on hydropower.
Wolfgang Denk, co-author of the study, said: "Our analysis shows that true leadership on climate comes from countries like UK, Sweden, Switzerland and France, where energy policy has supported the transition to low carbon economies. By contrast, promoting a green vision where renewables alone can power the future will lock in long-term dependency on fossil fuels.”
The report concludes that “climate leaders are countries that combine three elements: a low carbon intensity of electricity supply, a rapid reduction in their absolute level of emissions, and the maintenance of high levels of GDP”.
It states that countries which are leading the way in carbon emissions per GDP are those that have chosen to expand the provision of low-carbon electricity and those with good hydro-power resources.
“Countries with strong reliance on coal are in the bottom half of the climate leadership ranking. In terms of absolute emissions, the COP23 host Germany is actually a very poor performer. The decision to shut down its nuclear plants prematurely means Germany has to keep its massive fleet of lignite and hard coal power plants on the grid far into the future. Germany is already failing its 2020 emission-reduction targets, and there is currently no indication that it will do much better in the future. Far from advancing decarbonisation, the Energiewende has locked Germany into long-term carbon dependency.”