“Moving forward with renewed energy. Is my personal leitmotif for my future work as minister.
It describes both the most exciting challenges of the transformation of Germany’s energy system and
my concern for reinvigorating environmental policy in general”
Peter Altmaier, Germany Environmental Minister
Germany’s environment Minister, Peter Altmaier, has laid out a 10 point plan for the energy transition. As he argues, since technologies and other circumstances are changing so rapidly, this cannot be a master plan for the next 20 years. Instead, what he presented is more like a to-do list that contemplates the following 10 points:
- Successfully and efficiently implementing the transformation of the energy system as a core task for modern environmental and economic policy
- New impetus for climate protection
- Regulating nuclear waste management in a consensual way
- Advancing nature conservation and water protection (Compensation ordinance and Ordinance on the handling of substances potentially hazardous to water)
- Strengthening collection of recyclable materials and reusables as central elements of closed cycle management and resource efficiency
- Improving protection against electromagnetic fields
- Facilitating a responsible discussion about non-conventional natural gas (fracking)
- Ensuring public participation and transparency as preconditions for successful environmental policy
- Learning lessons from Rio: New approaches in European and international environmental policy
- Outlook 2030
Although the list is very complete and doesn’t forget mentioning any important issue, critics argue is very unspecific.
The first point of the list gives an important role to Energy Efficiency and the integration of renewables into the grid. As he explains “the use of renewables currently even surpasses projections. As early as the end of 2012, significantly more than 20 percent of the electricity supply will come from renewable sources. There is no doubt today that the medium-term goal of 35 percent renewables by 2020 will not only be reached, but exceeded. The problems are rather that their increase is so rapid that grid expansion is not keeping pace, and that there is a lack of incentives for bringing down costs and for market integration. For this reason, we introduced stricter limits on financial support for photovoltaics in early July by adopting, for the first time, an upper limit of 52 gigawatts (GW) for financial support.”
Climate protection is the key issue in the second point, in fact, Altmaier suggests that raising the European climate goal to a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be the right thing to do. Since many countries are currently making unilateral reduction commitments, it is also of decisive importance to develop a monitoring and verification system.
Nuclear waste disposal is also contemplated in the list. The plan consists in passing a law on this issue by the end of this year, and as he explains “the procedure will be designed in such a manner that all important decisions (for example, the selection of possible sites for exploration and determination of the final site) will be taken by the legislature. During the legislative procedure, care will be taken to ensure sufficient public and parliamentary deliberation.”
Regarding the fourth point in the list, Altmaier plans to develop several ordinances in order to mitigate environment impact and to preserve water protection.
The fifth point focuses in recycling management and reuse efficiency. In these terms another ordinance is to be made requiring unambiguous labelling of disposable and reusable packaging at the point of sale by the fourth quarter of 2012.
The next point in the list consists in adapting the existing regulations for the protection against electromagnetic fields to the current state of scientific knowledge in the area of low-frequency electrical and magnetic fields.
The last issues contemplated in the document are related to ensure and facilitate public discussion about energy and sustainability. In adition, cooperation and organisation is considered essential for reaching sustainability targets as well as to develop long-term strategies.
For further information, take a look at the complete document.