Climate News of the Week Roundup: New German Government Aims to Slow Down Renewable Energy Transition

This week’s roundup features reflections on the outcome of the Warsaw climate conference and on the outcome of the German coalition negotiations, projections of dirt-cheap solar, renewables scale-up in the US, Tasmania and Turkey, and more.

COP 19: The Warsaw deal and some reasons to be cheerful. James Murray thinks that disappointment at the Warsaw Summit was understandable, but the direction of travel is still towards ambitious climate action. The climate negotiations are pretty gridlocked by the conflict between the traditional industrialised and the emerging economy countries, with both sides of the debate making a compelling case. However, in his view developments on the ground give reason to be optimistic that something meaningful will be pulled together in Paris.

When Loss and Damage is as good as it gets (reflections on Warsaw). Harald Winkler draws a rather dispirited conclusion from Warsaw. There was no agreement on substantial finance at the ‘implementation COP’. “And with two years to go to Paris, the roadmap to the 2015 Agreement is clear as mud.”

Warsaw Climate Conference Takes Baby Steps Towards New Climate Agreement. A first brief assessment by the Wuppertal Institute concludes that on most central issues Warsaw only agreed on the bare minimum necessary to move the process forward. One can only hope that countries’ behaviour was to some extent tactical, staking out maximum claims in order to be in a better position for the subsequent negotiations. And that maybe at some point developments on the ground will trickle up into the minds of governments when it comes to negotiating climate change.

Solar at 2c/kWh? Not a matter of if, but when – and by whom. Giles Parkinson covers the work of Eicke Weber, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, who says cheap solar is inevitable, the only question is whether manufacturing capacity will be ramped up quickly enough to meet the world’s needs, and by whom.

US solar PV project pipeline grows to 43 GW. Joshua Hill reports that the US currently has in excess of 43 GW currently waiting in its solar PV project pipeline. Which is more than Germany has installed in total right now (35GW or thereabouts).

Tasmania aims for 100% renewables by 2020, 35% carbon cuts. Emma Fitzpatrick reports on the new climate plan of the Tasmanian government, some good news from down under for a change.

Navigating New Developments in Turkey’s Growing Renewable Energy Market. Ozan Karaduman among other things reports that Turkey has licensed 15,000 MW of onshore wind power capacity.

China needs a more radical climate change policy. chinadialogue.net did an interview with Chinese government advisor Jiang Kejun. In his view, “The national interest requires China to reposition itself and take its changing role seriously. Nothing should stand in the way of emissions cuts, of economic restructuring and new policies – the future direction is clear. Of course, good policy design and investment are preconditions. I’m very confident about this. The signs are all clear: the coal-based high-emissions path we have taken is at an end.”

CDU/CSU and SPD Present Coalition Agreement – 55% to 60% Renewables by 2035 and More.  Meanwhile, the world should apparently stop counting on German to drive things forward. Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats this week concluded their coalition negotiations, Matthias Lang summarises the main energy-related issues.

New German government – Energy or electricity. Craig Morris notes that there appears to is a crucial lack of clarity in the coalition agreement on whether the renewable energy targets refer only to electricity or the entire energy supply. If it’s supposed to be the entire energy supply, the targets are very ambitious, if it’s only electricity, the targets are a step down from the previous situation. It’s likely that electricity is meant and that the negotiators got things mixed up in their late-night negotiations.

And when it comes to the implementation details, according to critics, which include conservative parliamentarian Josef Göpppel (interview in German), even low targets will not be achieved. The new benchmark foreseen for onshore wind, whereby plants would need to deliver at least 75% of the output of a plant at an ideal site, would in his view completely gut the further expansion of onshore wind in Southern Germany. Which is, however, crucial as future backbone of the energy system, even more so since most of Germany’s nuclear power plants, which are supposed to be shut down by 2021, are located in Southern Germany. And the auctioning model envisaged to be introduced for renewables in 2018 to replace the feed-in tariff system would in his view exclude ordinary citizens, which have so far been the backbone of Germany’s renewables expansion, and put energy supply back into the hands of large corporations.

And the coalition agreement consigns the EU emission trading system from staying irrelevant. It supports backloading only as a one-time event, there is no support for structural reform.

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