Die boere in Duitsland is besig om regsaksies teen hul regering te neem weens klimaatstoestande en leë beloftes wat nooit nagekom is nie en politieke onverantwoordelikhede. Wanneer ‘n regering so ver gaan om hulself te saboteer , is dit almal wat daaronder ly. Aardverwarming, klimaatstoestande en veral besoedeling wat daarmee gepaardgaan.
“Some describe this as a fight between David and Goliath. To me, that’s besides the point,” said Schwienhorst, who suffered his poorest harvest in three decades after a record drought.
“The attitude of political representatives, the way they trivialise climate targets by giving up what they have set, is something that we need to bring to political accountability. That is important,” he told AFP.Together with two other farmers and Greenpeace, Schwienhorst has launched a challenge against the German government for having “given up” trying to achieve cuts in greenhouse gas emissions set out under its own climate target, as well as under European law.
A dairy farmer near Hamburg and a livestock farmer on the North Sea island of Pellworm have joined the first such lawsuit to seek “climate protection, not monetary compensation”.
Berlin had pledged to take action to slash greenhouse gas emissions in Germany by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.
But in its latest annual climate protection report published in June, the government admitted that it was now expecting to achieve 32 percent in reductions compared to 1990. The shortfall of 8 percentage points is equivalent to about 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.“It was clear in the climate protection report that the government is not planning to take further measures in order to reach the target. Instead, it has simply given up,” said Anike Peters of Greenpeace.
“We’re saying we’re not going to accept this. Because it’s not about a lack of technical possibilities to reach the target, rather it’s about a lack of political will.
– ‘Do what you promised’ –
With the help of lawyer Roda Verheyen, the plaintiffs lodged their case at the administrative court in Berlin at the end of October.
The court now needs to decide if there is any merit to the case.
Verheyen is no stranger to such climate cases.
In another high profile case in Germany, she helped bring to court a challenge by a Peruvian farmer against energy giant RWE over climate change damage in the Andes.
While the initial ruling went against them, the case is now at the appeals court.
Verheyen said that in her latest case, the issue is whether the government can be held liable for failing to implement climate protection measures, as the targets it set are not written into law.
“Here the plaintiff families say, yes. Do what you’ve promised, government, implement the 2020 climate protection goal.”
The environment ministry, which is taking the lead in responding to the case, said the plaintiffs had every right to bring the issue to court “to seek public attention” and increase the pressure for better climate protection.
“Although Germany’s climate protection efforts have made progress, they have not yet reached our goals,” ministry spokesman Andreas Kuebler told AFP. “That’s why we’re focusing on getting ahead in climate protection.
“We are united in the same goal,” Kuebler said. It was up to the court to decide whether the legal action was justified.
– ‘Frightening’ –
For Schwienhorst, who has run the dairy farm in Vetschau, eastern Germany, for 30 years, the impact of a warming Earth is apparent.
Compared to the 1990s, the period of vegetation growth in a year has lengthened, while maximum temperatures have also pushed above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).
“The change in the last decades is already impressive. But what happened this summer is simply frightening,” he said, referring to a record drought unseen in Germany since 1911.
The dry spell has stretched from late spring, even halting water traffic across the country, including on the Rhine, one of Europe’s busiest commercial arteries.
“We are still now in the phase when rain isn’t expected. I’m speechless,” said Schwienhorst. That those who dismiss such weather phenomena as one-offs are “impertinent”, he added.
The climate also has a direct impact on his livelihood.
A summer with temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius put the cows under great stress, and the drought meant his poorest harvest in the last three decades. Schwienhorst pointed to the barn, which was far from full. This year’s cereal crop — for human consumption — was 35 percent below the previous year.
His losses in livestock feed crop were even more serious: up to 50 percent, forcing him to buy 400 bales of hay.
Crucially, the farm has been forced to use up a rolling four-month reserve of feed for the cows by the summer.
“There’s still hope that this weather will turn, that after this dry phase a wet phase will come. But looking at the trend, change is happening. That is indisputable.”
Germany, the nation that did more than any other to unleash the modern renewable-energy industry, is likely to fall short of its goals for reducing harmful carbon-dioxide emissions even after spending over 500 billion euros ($580 billion) by 2025 to overhaul its energy system.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is grappling with the implications of failing to sufficiently raise the renewable share. Those may include extending the life of the most polluting fossil-fuel plants and scaling back future climate pledges under the landmark Paris Agreement, negotiated by more than 190 countries in 2015.
A shortfall in Germany is an ominous signal for other nations struggling to reach their own targets. Emboldened by its prowess in engineering and a consensus across all political parties in favoring green energy, Germany was the first major economy to make a big shift in its energy mix toward low-carbon sources.
Germany’s emissions miss should act as a “wake-up” call to all countries, said Gail Whiteman, professor of environment sustainability at the U.K.’s Lancaster University. “It does not necessarily mean that China or India or even the U.S.A. can’t cut their emissions. The key point is that we need a new kind of climate leadership, both at the nation-state level and across all other actors including companies and mayors.”
Falling short on greenhouse-gas goals has implications for the planet. Scientists have linked the heatwave in the Northern Hemisphere this season to climate change. Higher temperatures shut down power plants across Europe, ignited forest fires in California and shrank glaciers atop Sweden’s highest mountain.
That’s worried scientists, who fear they may have underestimated the impact of rising carbon emissions. “The human fingerprint on rising temperatures was clear in the heatwave this year,” said Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University.
“Stalled weather systems caused by a weakening and changing jet stream are probably playing with the unprecedented weather extremes we’re seeing around the world, with human-caused climate change playing a likely role here,” Mann said.
Germany stepped up as a leader on climate change at the start of the century, pioneering a system of subsidies for wind and solar farms that sparked a global boom in manufacturing the technologies.
Merkel, who as environment minister in the 1990s sketched some of the first international climate deals organized by the United Nations, in 2007 pledged to slash emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. She backed that up with more than 100 measures in order to meet that goal. The reductions Germany achieved didn’t have a big impact on the picture for global emissions because of an increase in emissions from developing nations.
“At the time they set their goals, they were very ambitious,” recalled Patricia Espinosa, the lead United Nations envoy on climate change. “It was a political statement that the chancellor was trying to make. What happened was that the industry—particularly the car industry—didn’t come along. Technically they can do it. Economically they can do it. But it’s political.”
Even without hitting the targets, Germany’s energy agenda is having a big impact on the mix of fuels used to generate electricity. Renewables are close to replacing coal as the primary source, and natural gas use is declining. The real problem is that Germany is also also trying to phase out nuclear reactors, a response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in Japan. And with the 2020 goals looking like a stretch, there’s increasing concern that tighter goals the country is planning for 2030 will be completely out of reach.
“The challenge looks really difficult,” said Andreas Loeschel, head of the government commission monitoring Germany’s energy transition. “There was too much confidence that renewables would do the trick. It’s about getting dirty energy out of the mix.”
Shutting down nuclear plants is leaving Germany short of generation plants that can work on the breezeless dark days in winter when wind farms and solar plants won’t provide much to the grid—and demand is at its peak. Another problem: When it’s windy and bright, the grid is so flooded with power that prices in the wholesale market sometimes drop below zero.
The result is a puzzle for politicians. The Bundestag enacted legislation to make sure climate targets are hit, including stringent rules governing energy use, a new building code to make buildings carbon neutral and a utility bill charge that would subsidize investment in green energy.
But grid managers need to keep the lights on. To do that, some big generators like RWE AG are anticipating the government may have to allow some coal plants to remain working longer than ministers would like.
Despite higher energy bills, public opinion has remained supportive of the energy transition. Polls conducted by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam found in its annual survey for 2017 that 88 percent of voters back the strategy to cut emissions.
Those numbers are apt to shift when politicians resolve the debate about how their targets match reality. Either they will have to abandon the goals and live with more pollution than they’ve promised, or they will have to force through painful and expensive measures that further limit emissions.
Other nations are looking at how Germany acts if only because many other big polluters have a bigger problem in making reductions. Germany’s economy is dominated by services that require less energy and produce less carbon than places tilted toward industry and manufacturing. China, which is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, has a larger share of its economy tied to factories and therefore will find it harder to make reductions.
It’s an idea that’s been around for more than two decades: To slow climate change, make polluters pay for the damage they cause. Worldwide, more than 50 nations, states and cities have adopted what’s known as carbon pricing, an approach held up by environmentalists, politicians and even many oil companies as an elegant, free-market approach to slow global warming. It’s done either through a tax on each metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted or by creating a market to trade permits to pollute. Carbon prices of $40 or more per ton are crucial if the world is to meet greenhouse-gas reduction targets in the Paris agreement to halt climate change, according to scientists.
50 NATIONS AND STATES HAVE ADOPTED
The circles represent subnational jurisdictions. The circles are not representative of the size of the carbon pricing instrument, but show the subnational regions (large circles) and cities (small circles).
Note: Carbon pricing initiatives are considered “scheduled for implementation” once they have been formally adopted through legislation and have an official, planned start date. Carbon pricing initiatives are considered “under consideration” if the government has announced its intention to work towards the implementation of a carbon pricing initiative and this has been formally confirmed by official government sources. The carbon pricing initiatives have been classified in ETSs and carbon taxes according to how they operate technically. ETS not only refers to cap-and-trade systems, but also baseline-and-credit systems as seen in British Columbia and baseline-and-offset systems as seen in Australia. The authors recognize that other classifications are possible. Due to the dynamic approach to continuously improve data quality, changes to the map not only reflect new developments, but also corrections following new information from official government sources, resulting in the addition of the carbon tax covering only F-gases in Spain.
Legislation : South Africa
The South Africa carbon tax is scheduled to
be implemented from January 1, 2019. The
government published a second Draft Carbon Tax
Bill on December 14, 2017 for public comment and
Parliament convened public hearings on the carbon
tax in March 2018. The second bill addresses
comments from the stakeholder consultation on
the first Draft Carbon Tax Bill held in 2015, but
this did not lead to major structural changes. The
starting carbon tax rate remains at R120/tCO2e
(US$10/tCO2e). The increase of the carbon tax rate
until 2022 is now stated as the amount of consumer
price inflation plus two percent annually. After
2022, only inflationary adjustments are envisioned.
A revised bill is expected to be formally tabled in
Parliament by mid-2018.
EU governments are self-sabotaging the clean energy drive
On Monday (18 December), the 28 European energy ministers will risk making the transition to a low carbon economy harder for themselves and more expensive for all of us, because of their self-sabotaging tendencies.
That is when they are meeting to try and agree a common position on most of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package, a once in a decade set of reforms that will underpin the transformation of the European energy system post 2020.
In addition to new objectives on renewables and energy efficiency and a framework to deliver on these effectively (the ‘governance regulation”), it includes a set of rules to make electricity markets more open, competitive, and ready for increasing levels of renewables and consumer participation (‘electricity market design’).
Negotiations on these electricity market design rules have been hard, and it shows. The texts ministers will try to agree on Monday are sometimes incoherent, often impenetrable, a sign of the irreconcilable priorities and unwillingness of the negotiating parties.
But one thing is clear: none of the vision for a competitive, consumer-focused, decarbonised future showcased just a few days ago at the One Planet Summit has been translated across to these negotiations.
EU governments are including not-so-subtle provisions to protect their incumbents from competition arising from new energy market players – new business models, consumers, or renewables.
For instance, governments are about to agree to limit the ability of new business models (called ‘independent aggregators’) to enter the market by giving the option to existing suppliers to stop them from approaching their consumers.
They are also making it difficult for consumers to invest in renewables or to provide flexibility by adapting the timing of their energy consumption, which would eventually challenge more traditional forms of flexibility like gas-fired plants.
Several governments are also fighting tooth and nail against any potential checks and balances around the development of ‘capacity mechanisms’, national subsidy schemes that have a poor track record in terms of extending the lifetime of coal plants, incentivising new diesel or gas plants, while limiting efficiency improvements and hindering cross-border exchanges.
Just to name a few, the UK, France and Italy are refusing a move to a more coherent regional and European approach to assessing the need for such schemes. Germany is carving out exemptions for its favoured form of capacity mechanism (“strategic reserves”) at all costs.
Many governments committed to move beyond coal, including the Netherlands, Italy, the UK, are sitting idle while a handful of countries are defining rules allowing the use of public money for old coal plants to stay open longer, or even extend their lifetimes, and supporting the building of new plants before 2025.
EU governments may be genuinely committed to building a clean low-carbon economy and to protect their citizens from the increasingly severe impacts of climate change, but these negotiations are evidence that they are simply unwilling to make the right choices to get there. EU governments stand at a crossroad, and they are choosing coal over renewables; incumbent players over consumers; national control over efficiency.
Luckily for all of us – European citizens and businesses – the European Parliament has emerged as an effective promoter of a faster energy transformation, and one can only hope they will be able to put the EU on the right track and ensure the Clean Energy package is worthy of its name during the final trilateral negotiations in 2018.
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