“This news is untrue and false” – German minister responds to climate criticism

German Economic Minister Peter Altmaier has used Twitter to respond to a joint statement by green groups ahead of a crunch meeting in Brussels today.

Answering a tweet by the environmental umbrella DNR that claimed Germany was blocking higher targets, Altmaier wrote: “This news is untrue and false!”.

The DNR statement, which was backed by DUH, Germanwatch, BUND and WWF Germany came after an EU Council meeting in which Altmaier had claimed that citizens were losing faith in politicians because of their failure to meet “unrealistic” climate targets.

The groups called on the German government to use a crucial meeting between Commission, EU governments and MEPs today to push for higher targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Barbara Metz, of Deutschen Umwelthilfe (DUH) said:

“The German government is blocking EU partners that support raising ambition and joining the side of those that want to hit the brakes on the European energy transition.”

She continued: “Achieving 35% renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2030 is the minimum Europe needs to do to meet the commitments made in the Paris climate accord.”

Video from a meeting of EU ministers shows Altmaier arguing against that Germany has already invested more in renewable energy than “probably any other country”.

He questions whether Germany has the technology and possibility to achieve a target above 30%, saying: “We need to work out a compromise that doesn’t lead to more missed targets in the near future.”

Altmaier argues that the EU governments have already shown greater ambition by raising its renewable target from 27% to 30% – a move that was not included in the negotiations documents. He suggests that the Parliament should therefore lower its demand to reach a compromise.

Ernst-Christoph Stolper, of BUND said: “Economy Minister Peter Altmaier must correct his climate course. Altmaier’s approach is also threatening to stop Germany from reaching its renewable and energy efficiency targets within the EU. The government’s threadbare arguments are damaging to all of Europe’s energy transition.

Current discussions around the EU’s energy efficiency and renewable directives and its governance regulation are part of the Commission’s so-called ‘Winter Package’. The ‘Cleaner Energy for All Europeans’ plans are supposed to help ensure that Europe meets its climate commitments by reforming energy use up to 2030.

The results of the crunch meetings on energy efficiency and renewable energy should become clear this evening, with negotiations around the renewables directive expected to go on into late in the night.

Last week Germany launched its long-awaited ‘Coal Commission’ to investigate how soon the country could phase out coal and lignite power production – the biggest sources of CO2 emissions in Germany. The current German government is resigned to the fact that it will miss its 2020 climate targets by a significant margin.