Comment: Habeck’s climate plans need an efficiency check

Robert Habeck wants speed in the expansion of renewable energies

Robert Habeck only has this chance: What he is not tackling now can no longer succeed in this legislative period and with a view to the climate targets for 2030. This creates the risk that climate protection will now be pursued by bending or breaking – with immense collateral damage.

The question is whether companies and the population will be permanently open to the expansion of renewable energies. And the question is how efficient the measures will actually be.

Traditionally, Germany is not particularly concerned about whether climate protection measures that have been adopted are effective; Nowhere else in the world are the CO2 savings per tonne likely to be as expensive as in this country. If this trend intensifies, the dangers for the entire economy will increase.

At the presentation of his immediate measures on Tuesday, Habeck emphasized that the challenges were immense and that the pace had to be increased by a factor of three. That is strategically smart. The graphs from the federal press conference, on which Habeck shows graphics with reduction paths for emissions and with increase paths for the expansion of renewables up to 2030, should stick in the minds of many people.

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The message is clear: look, I am facing a daunting task, but I am not avoiding shouldering this burden. And if it doesn’t work out in the end, all of my predecessors and all those who hindered and blocked things will also bear part of the blame.

The costs are largely excluded

Habeck showed what to do. However, he largely ignored the question of what it could cost and what it may cost. Enthusiastic about the idea of ​​making Germany a pioneer in climate protection, the minister firmly assumes that in the end the transformation will in any case be an economic gain for the entire country. The credo is that Germany will emerge stronger from the restructuring process.

Coal power plant in Niederaussem

The end of the Rhenish lignite mine is hotly contested, large parts of the energy transition have not yet been completed.

(Foto: Getty Images)

But things are not that simple. The further expansion of the power grids, including the expansion of the charging infrastructure for e-cars, the development of a hydrogen infrastructure, the transformation of industry and the expansion of renewable energies will all consume billions of euros each year.

This money cannot be spent elsewhere; it is missing for education, research and development, health and old-age security.

That is why it is so important not to use the funds for climate protection in any way, but exclusively in a sensible way. If Germany is the first country in the world to have saved the last ton of CO2, but sacrificed its competitiveness, then nobody will be helped.

The energy transition as a blueprint for the rest of the world, the path to climate neutrality as a model for everyone else – that only works if economic performance is maintained at the same time.

Steel industry hopes for government funding

After all, climate protection agreements for industry are on Habeck’s list of priorities. The steel industry can therefore hope that billions in investments in hydrogen-based processes will be subsidized by the state and that the ongoing operation of the new plants will also be supported with state aid for years.

But that’s only part of the solution. Because for a long time many branches of industry, including thousands of medium-sized companies, have been groaning at high energy costs. In view of the high wholesale prices for electricity and gas, the high state-induced taxes on energy in Europe-wide comparison are proving to be a heavy burden.

An industrial electricity price could help. Of course, this raises questions of state aid law at EU level, but after all it is about big things and fundamental issues. Habeck has not yet heard a word on this subject.

And so Habeck is in the process of announcing new goals and leaving unfinished business behind. The Minister of Economic Affairs wants to achieve a lot. It’s good. However, an efficiency check for each individual measure is essential.

More: When the price of CO2 jeopardizes livelihoods

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