More speed in expanding renewable energies and more careful use of resources – that’s what federal and state environment ministers agreed at their two-day meeting in Wilhelmshaven, also in light of the war in Ukraine. Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Green’s) has announced that it will limit the use of biofuels from cultivated plants through a law change. You want to submit a proposal “urgently”.
Less fuel than animal feed
Lemki said the war in Ukraine shows poor supplies of food and raw materials. “Agrifuels from food and feed are no longer a solution at a time when we are threatened by one of the worst global hunger crises.” Lemke said the fields would be required around the world to produce food. “That’s why we need to reduce the use of agricultural fuels from food and feed crops.”
The environment ministers of the federal states also expressed their support in a resolution. “We want panels instead of tanks,” said the head of the Conference of Environment Ministers, Lower Saxony’s Environment Minister Olaf Laiss (SPD). In Germany alone, 2.4 million tons of feed and food are used to produce bioethanol as a fuel additive. “I think it would be wise to use the land to grow food,” said Lies. Lower Saxony is chairing this year’s conference of environment ministers.
Speed limit on motorways is a “quick and efficient procedure”
In order to save resources, ministers of state also voted to limit speed on highways. “We must also bolster climate protection by setting the pace,” said Lies. Both Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia indicated in the Register that they considered the effect of the speed limit to be limited and did not support it “for reasons of proportionality”. Lays said the resolution, which also contains other points about climate protection and the effects of the war in Ukraine, passed unanimously with the votes of these two federal states.
The maximum speed limit required is not mentioned in the resolution. Lies favor Tempo 130. Thuringia’s Environment Minister Anja Sigsmund (the Greens) said the speed limit was a “quick and efficient measure to save millions of liters of fuel and tons of carbon dioxide annually”. It helps protect the climate and makes you less dependent on oil imports.
Criticism from the fuel industry, approval from environmental aid
The German Biofuel Industry Association (VDB) rejected the decision. “If environment ministers want to increase the cap on biofuels, they must also define how they intend to achieve climate targets,” said Managing Director Elmar Bowman. On the other hand, German Environmental Aid welcomed the progress made by the conference. The speed limit is correct, said Jürgen Resch, managing director of the Federal Reserve. The relief effect is impressive.
In order to accelerate the expansion of renewable energies, especially wind energy, state ministers have called on the federal government to set legal standards for species protection checks. This creates legal certainty and simplifies administrative processes, Lies said.
More skilled workers needed for power transmission
The minister stressed that in addition to faster actions, there is also a need for adequate funding and specialists for the energy transition. A joint working group of the federal and state governments has come to the conclusion that an additional 3,500 jobs are needed in Germany in order to achieve the climate protection goals that have been set. In addition, 2.3 billion euros more are needed annually to preserve nature and adapt to climate change.
Federal Environment Minister Lemke emphasized that species protection should not be neglected when expanding renewable energies and protecting climate. Therefore, the federal government wants to introduce the Species Assistance Program for Nature Conservation in the amount of 82 million euros in the next few years. “This means that where the expansion of wind energy has negative impacts, we will mitigate those impacts with the Species Assistance Program,” Lemke said.
In Wilhelmshaven, the conference of federal and state environment ministers convened for the first time in two years due to the pandemic. The conference was also accompanied by many rallies and demonstrations – many environmental groups set up a climate camp right in front of the conference hotel.
Construction work on the liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in the coastal city started just last week. Conference Chairman Leese said the environment ministers recognized that this was necessary to reduce their dependence on Russian energy supplies. These stations should only be a “bridge”.