Evaluation of the German "Double-Presidency" through a Climate Protection Policy Lens
On June 30th, the German EU- presidency came to an end, thus concluding the so-called German “Double-Presidency”; however, Germany will remain at the helm of the G8 until the end of the year. During the Double-Presidency, climate protection enjoyed the highest priority. The “Climate Talk” on 18 July delved into the question if the Double-Presidency could be assessed as a success or as a failure with respect to climate protection policy.
Both domestic and international expectations of Germany were high. But are the results satisfying? In March, the European Council announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by at least 20% by the year 2020, with reductions of up to 30% in the case of a binding international agreement. The EU also pledged to raise the share of renewable energy to 20% by 2020, and through improvements in energy efficiency, to reduce energy consumption by 20% from predicted levels by the same time. It remains to be seen how the objectives should be implemented on the national level.
In Heiligendamm, the G8 states agreed to negotiate climate protection under the umbrella of the UN and to consider that some G8 states see a need to halve global emissions by 2050.
These decisions and declarations were a solid foundation for vivid discussions, not only in the public sphere but also in the “Climate Talk”. Michael Mehling (University of Greifswald) provided an introduction to the topic. Dr. Stefan Ulreich (E.ON AG) gave an economic appraisal of the matter. European Parliamentary delegate Rebecca Harms evaluated the German „Double-Presidency“ from a political stance.
The presentations and the following discussion pointed out that both the German EU and G8-Presidencies can be deemed successful. The commitments and declarations that were reached exceeded most expectations. Additionally, the controversial negotiations and compromises made clear, which basic problems and conflicts should be expected for the international, European and even national negotiations on climate protection.
With regard to EU climate- and energy-policy, it was underlined that it now depends on legislative implementation on the European and national levels, especially concerning attainment of emission reduction targets and adherence to the economic sector’s requirement of planning reliability. In this context, a controversial discussion arose about the stress ratio between ”necessity“ and ”feasibility“.
After extensive discussion, these and other questions were further explored over dinner in a nearby restaurant, where the evening drew to a relaxed close.