Green stimulus packages, fiercely debated in Germany, could be instrumental to reset the economy on a more climate-friendly path as the country gradually phases out both nuclear and coal power. However, calls from the industry to loosen emission regulations to boost economic activity are growing louder.
More and more investor-owned utility companies in the United States have conceded to suspend disconnections of customers who do not pay their bills during the coronavirus pandemic. American Electric Power, Dominion, Duke Energy and PG&E are among twelve utilities who agreed relief measures for homeowners and businesses to help avert bankruptcies.
Contingency measures to contain the coronavirus have slowed industrial output and transport throughout Europe and might help Germany reach its 40% emission reduction targets. Power sector emissions fell substantially as cheap gas accelerated fuel switching, but critics warned the “corona effect could obscure the need for change,” notably for road traffic.
German research minister Anja Karliczek is calling for a “clear schedule and a clear target” for a transition to green hydrogen, made with renewable energy. The minister dismissed blue hydrogen, made with natural gas using carbon capture and storage (CCS), as “a distraction.” Berlin will decide on a hydrogen strategy on March 18.
Germany's policy push to reach 2030 climate targets is “insufficient,” two government-commissioned studies find. Despite the agreement on a coal phase-out, the introduction of a CO2 price and several other measures, emissions will likely exceed the target by around 70 million tonnes in a decade, mainly due to shortcomings in transport and the heating sector.
The California Energy Commission has withdrawn the license for the Palmdale Energy Project, just north of Los Angeles, after the developer Palmdale Energy signaled it was unable to secure a customer for the gas-fired plant. Attitudes in California have changed as consumers favour carbon-neutral power generation over fossil fuels.