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“Cool, what you’re doing in Germany”

By Sven Geitmann

April 30, 2024

Image titel: Robert Habeck explains his policy

Sources: Screenshot BMWK (German economy ministry) video

“Cool, what you’re doing in Germany”

“Today is a good day for industry location Germany, climate protection and sustainable jobs in our country” – German economy and climate protection minister Robert Habeck was referring to the first bidding process for carbon contracts for difference, which the German government launched in mid-March 2024.

Fig.: Robert Habeck explains his policy

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Habeck.jpg – Wolf, bitte die Bildqualität so gut wie möglich optimieren

Source: Screenshot BMWK (German economy ministry) video

“With the carbon contracts for difference, firstly, we are promoting modern, climate-friendly industrial systems of tomorrow. Through this will come new technologies, value chains and infrastructures. This helps, secondly, industry worldwide to switch to climate-friendly production. And thirdly, with the carbon contracts for difference, we are setting new international standards for efficient and low-bureaucracy funding,” he added.

Abroad, this step will be admired with envy, according to Habeck: “Cool what you’re doing in Germany. We want that too.”

Even if some people in Germany don’t like to hear that – because they are all too willing to participate in Habeck bashing – you have to give him credit for getting a lot of things off the ground during his time in office. And if representatives of the chemical industry in particular describe these carbon contracts as a “right step,” not everything can have been wrong.

Opinions on Habeck are currently divided: For some, he is not green enough, too pro-business, too industry-friendly – for others, he is too green, too idealistic, too poetic.

But if you look at what has been kicked off in recent months – in particular due to Habeck’s commitment – it can be seen, even with strong climate protection glasses: Germany has come through the last few winters well and now has several LNG terminals built in record time. Germany is gradually getting the energy policy framework that so many people have been calling for, which provides planning security – be it in the heating or transportation sector, but especially in the industrial sector.

Germany is making efforts to keep energy-intensive companies in the steel, glass, cement and chemical industries in particular in the country and to accommodate them. Germany is also forging international partnerships for the import of hydrogen and the transfer of technological expertise (see H2-international May 2024: p. 12 – Norway as partner country of Hannover Messe).

In addition, the IPCEI projects are finally gaining momentum (see p. 28), and even the update to the 37th ordinance on implementation of German emissions reduction law (37. Verordnung zur Durchführung des Bundes-Immissionsschutzgesetzes) was passed by the German parliament on March 14, 2024.

These and many other measures have led, among other things, to a 10.1 percent reduction in climate emissions in 2023 compared to 2022, which corresponds to the largest decrease in CO2 equivalents since 1990.

Yes, this decline is certainly due in part to Germany’s currently reduced economic strength. So? It is quite clear that a transformative process in the energy sector means that production cannot continue at the same level as before. And exactly this is wanted, because we can no longer afford to waste as much energy and as many resources as before.

A moderate decline in economic power is, in my opinion, very manageable for the time being and should be viewed positively, as this is precisely what will break up outdated structures and ensure the country’s future viability. It will now be a matter of keeping the right degree in sight, to find a balance between pressure to act and reasonableness.

This applies not only to the government, but also to the people, who also possess a great deal of responsibility – be it the choice of the next car or the next heating system. Less grumbling and more sustainable action can sometimes work wonders.

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