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Where to Now?

Germany Rethinks its Energy Transition

Josephine Moore and Thane Gustafson

Abstract

This article examines Germany’s efforts to transition to a less carbon intensive economy. It follows the origins of the ongoing Energiewende and the civil mentality that allowed Germany to become a leader in the transition to a cleaner future; while also critically analyzing the country’s capacity to in fact achieve those targets, looking closely at both the achievements and shortcomings of existing policies. To date, the focus has largely been on reforming electricity generation; however, as the Energiewende moves along focus must move beyond just sustainability to address other parts of energy policy including energy security and affordability. Beyond just generation attention must also move to sectors such as transportation and construction.

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When the Exit?

The Difficult Politics of German Coal

Tessa Coggio and Thane Gustafson

This article considers Germany’s contentious exit from brown coal (lignite), now set for 2038. While greener alternatives, such as wind, solar, or natural gas have been reducing coal’s standing in Germany’s energy mix for years, coal proponents, backed by special interests, have pushed back at all levels of government. With a focus on the politics of coal during the 2017 parliamentary elections, the tedious months of coalition negotiations and the work of the coal committee since summer 2018, we explore how policymakers try to reconcile competing interests at the federal state, local, as well as international levels.

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Jonas Heering and Thane Gustafson

Abstract

This article examines Germany's current climate and energy policies. Nearly two decades on, Germany's Energiewende—the transition to a less carbon-intensive economy—is at a crossroads. While remarkable advances have been made, the technical difficulties of expanding the energy transition beyond the electricity sector, the mounting costs of the transition itself, and now the covid-19 pandemic are slowing further progress. Maintaining the momentum of the Energiewende would require collaborative action, yet the principal political players have different agendas, making it difficult to reach decisions. In this article, we consider three of those actors: the German public, the opposition parties, and the government. We find that agreements on German climate policy have been diluted in political compromises and that real progress is being blocked. These problems will only increase as Germany deals with the consequences of the pandemic and faces a transition in national leadership in 2021.