Coalition aims for energy transition

Wed 8th Mar, 2023

Image by Erich WestendarpChancellor Olaf Scholz is swearing in Germans to a massive transformation of the economy and a switch of the country to renewable energies. The chancellor said at the end of the coalition retreat in Meseberg Castle (Brandenburg) that the momentum of the first year of the traffic light government should be taken along for the "transformation of our economy." "The task we have ahead of us must not be underestimated," Scholz said. But it also became clear at the retreat, he said, "that we will succeed." One goal, for example, is to put up four to five new wind turbines every day by 2030, he said. "We must and we want to dare more progress," the chancellor said.

At the final press conference, coalition leaders emphasized on the one hand the magnitude of the task of making the country independent of fossil fuels such as oil and gas. On the other hand, they were at pains to spread confidence despite the great challenges. Scholz said that confidence comes from setting ambitious goals and at the same time being sure that they can be achieved. Investments in green energy create many jobs and ensure that Germany will continue to be part of the international top ten in ten years' time.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) said the coalition was pushing ahead with a "gigantic industrial and employment program." In 2000, the share of renewable energies in Germany's energy mix was still zero, Habeck said. If one considers what the country has already achieved since then, then the Germans should not be afraid of the next decades.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) announced a Future Financing Act to facilitate private investments in the future. The corresponding draft will be completed in the next few days and is to be coordinated with the other ministries shortly, Lindner announced.

In response to the question of whether contentious issues had also been resolved at the closed meeting, Scholz said that various topics had been discussed informally and that progress had been made. Overall, he said, there had been a "palpable undercurrent" in the Cabinet. One of the most controversial issues was Habeck's plan to ban new gas and oil-fired heating systems. The FDP had announced opposition to this. There is also tension over the federal budget for 2024. There were "no budget talks" in Meseberg, Lindner said. However, the first round of talks with cabinet members had already been completed, he said, and he would soon present an initial draft budget.

The coalition had caused annoyance in Brussels by questioning the EU's previous plan to phase out cars with internal combustion engines from 2035. This was due to concerns expressed by the FDP, from whose point of view the EU Commission had not presented any viable proposals for the continued operation of combustion engines with climate-friendly fuels, so-called e-fuels. The German government is in agreement on this issue, Scholz stressed on Monday after the conclusion of the closed meeting: the EU Commission should make a proposal for the use of e-fuels after 2035. Lindner demanded legal certainty for this technology from the Commission. "Once that is established, everything will continue on its way." No technology path should be closed, he said.

Image by Erich Westendarp


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