January 21, 2014

DER SPIEGEL: Green Fade-Out: Europe to Ditch Climate Protection Goals.

The European Commission wants to forgo ambitious climate protection goals and pave the way for fracking — jeopardizing Germany’s touted energy revolution in the process.

The climate between Brussels and Berlin is polluted, something European Commission officials attribute, among other things, to the “reckless” way German Chancellor Angela Merkel blocked stricter exhaust emissions during her re-election campaign to placate domestic automotive manufacturers like Daimler and BMW. This kind of blatant self-interest, officials complained at the time, is poisoning the climate.

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At the heart of the matter is the simple fact that renewable energy comes at a premium, and the costs for propping it up have been passed along to consumers, both industrial and residential, in the form of higher electricity costs.

Yet this turn towards green energy has produced a browner energy landscape. Germany produced more energy from coal in 2013 than it had in nearly a quarter century, and its emissions actually rose. . . .

German businesses are considering jumping ship for cheaper energy prices in the developing world or (gasp!) the United States. For households, these subsidies have acted like a particularly regressive tax: The poor feel the bite of higher electricity bills than do the rich. Germany’s new energy and economy minister Sigmar Gabriel is expected to announce a plan to cut renewable energy subsidies later this week in an effort to keep electricity prices down. That will be a step in the right direction, but significant damage has already been done.

Something that can’t go on forever, won’t.