Berlin/Kassel. Zukunft Erdgas, the joint initiative of the German gas industry, has called on the German government to change course in its climate protection policy by presenting a list of demands. “It’s already foreseeable that Germany won't achieve the climate targets envisaged by 2020. Policymakers must finally focus all their efforts on reducing greenhouse gases. A failure to achieve the targets is politically accepted. We call on the German government to adopt a climate policy that soon results in a measurable reduction in CO2 and remains affordable,” said Dr. Timm Kehler, chairman of the Zukunft Erdgas initiative, in Berlin. The press conference marked the launch of a campaign by the gas industry that will run until the end of 2017.
The German government has postponed adopting the Climate Protection Plan 2050 at short notice. “Yet it’s already foreseeable that the new draft won’t make any contribution to protecting the climate,” said Kehler. “Reducing CO2 must be the key question. That’s why we have to phase out coal-based power generation faster, end electrification of all sectors and use climate-friendly natural gas solutions in all sectors,” he stressed.
Since 2010, Germany has not made any noteworthy progress in cutting CO2 emissions – despite massive efforts to expand the use of renewable energies. There is a standstill in all sectors – heat, power and transport. “There’s enormous pressure to act. Yet there’s no clear line or any agreement on urgently needed measures within the government. That’s shown by the further postponement of the Climate Protection Plan,” said Dr. Gerhard Holtmeier from the Management Board of Thüga Aktiengesellschaft. He noted that, instead of taking action, the German government was promising to convert all areas of life to solutions based on electricity. Yet to do that for all sectors, such as heating or mobility, electricity capacity would need to be increased at least five-fold,” added Holtmeier. “The government is leaving citizens, the business community, and ultimately us as well, in the dark about how that is to be achieved,” criticized Holtmeier.
At the same time, there was an urgent need to act. Germany was generating harmful coal-based electricity in abundance, yet gas-fired power plants that produce 70 percent fewer emissions were standing idle. Sales of natural gas-powered vehicles were declining, despite the fact that their emissions were around one-third lower than gasoline and diesel ones and that they are the ideal solution for the pressing problems of nitrogen dioxide and particulates. 71 percent of all heating systems needed to be modernized and consumed more energy than necessary. “We need tax breaks for energy rehabilitation measures or an allowance for scrapping old heating systems,” demanded Kehler. “Climate protection and cost effectiveness must also be the main criteria that guide all renovation measures and statutory regulations in the heat sector,” added Kehler.
The industry representatives stressed that the gas industry backed greater use of renewable energies. They pointed out that Germany has a comprehensive and reliable gas infrastructure that could be used to store and transport electricity and natural gas (biogas) from renewable sources. Innovative power-to-gas technology was highly suited for converting electricity from renewable sources into methane, storing it and enabling it to be transported. The German government’s Climate Protection Plan ignored the innovative potential of gas technology, bemoaned Kehler.