Europe Risks Losing Momentum on Climate Protection

Germany’s Federal Chancellor Merkel must endorse ambitious renewable goals

Press release - 14 July, 2014
Berlin, 14 July 2014 – In view of the worldwide boom in renewable energies, Greenpeace today calls on Chancellor Merkel at the Petersberger Climate Dialogue in Berlin to take a more committed stance in matters of climate protection and the expansion of renewable energies in Europe.

Environmental activists set up a five-metre high banner in front of the Brandenburg Gate which reads, "Climate protection: The world is waiting for Europe, Ms Merkel!"

While enough wind and solar plants will go online this year to make close to 40 dirty coal-plants redundant, climate protection in Europe is about to stagnate. US President Obama announced regulations in early June to cut by a quarter the CO2 emissions from the USA's 600 coal-fired power plants by 2020, and even China is discussing a cap on CO2 emissions. The EU Commission's current goals for 2030 are severely lacking in ambition, going only marginally further than existing measures.

"Ms Merkel has the possibility to bring about a dynamic shift in the climate protection debate in Europe. The Chancellor must make a personal commitment and fight for ambitious EU targets for the expansion of renewables and energy efficiency. Otherwise, Europe risks becoming a blocker instead of a driver in matters of climate protection", says Greenpeace climate expert, Martin Kaiser.

Chancellor Merkel will have the opportunity at the Petersberger Climate Dialogue to talk with ministers from 35 countries about how to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The event is an important step along the road to a global climate treaty. The agreement, due to be signed in Paris, late 2015, will establish measures by which the consequences of climate change can be kept within controllable limits.

In its latest report, published in April, the IPCC underlined the much improved technical and financial viability of renewable energies, to the extent that they are largely now capable of replacing coal, oil and nuclear power generation, which are hazardous to climate and human health.

A gradual phase out of coal can save Germany's climate targets

Germany has already taken the decision to phase out coal, oil and nuclear power generation in the long term. According to a study by the Federal Environment Agency published last year, the country will be able to manage without CO2 emissions by 2050 at the latest. Germany seeks to lower its CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020, but the resurgence of cheap, coal-fired power production has recently caused the country's emissions to rise again. "If the Chancellor still wishes to achieve the climate protection target that she set herself, she must initiate the gradual phase out of coal over the next 15 months", says Kaiser.

Despite Angela Merkel's announcement in early July that she would make climate protection a central issue of the German G7 Presidency, the federal government continues to finance the construction of coal-fired power plants overseas through the state-owned KfW investment Bank and by granting Hermes credit guarantees; this while countries such as the USA and the UK have recently prohibited this kind of support.

Kaiser points out that "Chancellor Merkel must take the first step toward better climate protection at home. It is unacceptable for Germany, famous for its progressive energy transition pathway, 'Energiewende', to finance the construction of dirty coal-fired power plants with taxpayers money."


Note to editors:

For more information please contact Martin Kaiser, Tel.: +49 (0)171-878 08 17, or Press Officer Gregor Kessler, Tel.: +49 (0)151–72 70 29 18.

For photos call: +49 (0)40–306 18 377