No, Germany is NOT a frontrunner in climate politics.
I come from a vastly over-rated country: the Federal Republic of Germany. Why is that? Because “we” are seen as a country that showed the world that a decoupling of emissions from economic growth is possible. As the fourth-largest economy worldwide, “we” are cutting back emissions and push for international climate protection. “We” have shown that there is the potential for massive green jobs increases and that eco is cool. Well, let me clarify some things:
- Germany’s primary CO2-reduction came from the demise of the East-German industry, following the reunification in 1990.
- Germany’s supplementary reductions are mainly due to the export of it’s “ecological backpack” to countries like China. The Germans massively import goods which have a long and dirty history of production – but this one takes place elsewhere. Hence, no decoupling has been achieved!
- Truly, the EEG-law, which entered into force unter the red-green coalition a decade ago, is reason to most of the surge in renewable energy production all across the country. This truly is a front-runner law. But it is neither enough to perfect, as it aims at getting renewables to a standard where they are strong enough to compete with fossil energy. As this becomes reality, the EEG shows some serious flaws. Further, as there is a fixed (politically set and way to unambitious) cap through the EU-ETS market, the EEG in fact brings little to none mitigation.
- The new “energy-package” from chancellor Merkel is far from being anything revolutionary. The nuclear phase-out (which itself has little impact on CO2-emissions) was signed into law 9 years ago by a Green minister. Merkel reversed this epic deal last year after being lobbied hard by the energy industry. She now went back to what was the German consensus between 2002 and 2009 (four years of this were under Merkel!).
- The other reforms of the package are steady-state to backward in terms of climate protection and renewable enforcment. There was a shift away from onshore wind (which enables small owners to participate in energy production) to more offshore (which is big business’ business).
- Indeen, Germany has established over 400.000 new “green” jobs in the last decade. However, as there needs to be a transformation and with 19% of electricity coming from renewables, this should be nothing out of the ordinary. And sadly, these jobs are rarely of high quality in terms of workers rights, payments and participation.
- Internationally, Germany has had a “big mouth” but did not show concrete committment. It is not to deny, that German Kyoto-target is one of the few reached and Germany’s commitment have traditionally “offset” the stuborness of some neighbors. However, Germany is double-counting 90% of its climate finance – thus diverting money from the developing-aid (ODA) to climate. This kind of cheating is outrageous and needs to be stopped. Furthermore, the total amount of climate finance is minimal to what the responsibilities of Germany for global climate change and its respective capacities are.
You see, Germany needs to be seen as critical as other industrialized countries. Otherwise, we have an even harder job here in Berlin to convince the “climate-chancellor”, that good and progressive climate policy is more than PR-work.