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Political turn of the tide?

Time is pressing to find effective measures against climate change. But so far it seems that the pressure has not yet reached all governments. Although most of the world's countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement and presented climate protection packages that set out measures for the coming years, there has often been a huge lack of implementation.

 Governments of various countries have announced big plans in recent days (Image: Pixabay) Governments of various countries have announced big plans in recent days (Image: Pixabay)

In recent days, different governments have taken or announced very different ways to push forward the expansion of renewable energy - one of the main measures against climate change. They all have one thing in common: a heavy hand from above.

The Chinese government is probably the easiest to implement its plans. After all, in this non-democratic country, citizens have hardly any opportunity to protest against planned projects or even to prevent them. Nevertheless, the new plans presented by the government in recent days are remarkable, because China - the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases - wants to push the pace even harder than before.

The government has now announced to double down on its previous plan to generate more electricity from renewable sources and expand green financing to meet the country's goal of carbon neutrality by 2060. To that end, China's top economic regulators, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and the National Energy Administration (NEA) issued an implementation plan. This envisages a series of 21 measures, including the installation of large-scale wind and solar plants, the promotion of renewable energy in rural areas, the acceleration of approval procedures for wind power projects including microgrid projects, and the creation of a secure and efficient energy system. That's how the Chinese aim to create a target of 1,200 GW of wind and solar power by 2030.

“There were worries that China may scale down its decarbonisation efforts due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, energy security concerns, and disruptions to supply chains because of China’s COVID-19 policies,” Qin Yan, senior carbon analyst at data provider Refinitiv told The Star. But those concerns have not been borne out. “If implemented well, the policies will further speed up the expansion of both solar and wind projects,” comments Lucas Zhang Liutong, director of WaterRock Energy Economics.

The plan, released earlier this week, also emphasizes improving financial policies, including green power and green certificate trading. After launching a pilot project last September, the plan indicates that more financial instruments will be introduced in the future, Qin said.

The massive expansion of renewable energies is the basis for a successful energy transition (Image: Pixabay)

And the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases is doing something, too: In recent days, U.S. President Joe Biden has taken measures that some experts have dubbed a "turn of an era" moment: In a series of executive actions, Biden issued a precautionary two-year suspension of punitive tariffs on solar installations that could result from an ongoing Commerce Department investigation. The move heeds solar industry companies, which for months had expressed outrage over the Commerce Department's investigation.

At the same time, it authorized the Department of Energy to invoke Defense Production Act (DPA) authority to boost domestic production of solar panels and other clean energy technologies, from electric heat pumps to hydrogen electrolyzers. Two new federal policies are intended to accelerate government contracting for solar power produced with U.S.-made equipment - a move that would result in 10 new gigawatts of U.S.-made solar over the next decade, more than the country's entire current capacity, according to E&E News.

The solar industry is celebrating the decision, as the uncertainty surrounding pricing associated with the tariffs had already led to up to two-thirds of all solar expansion plans in the U.S. being put on hold. These measures could also bring new momentum with regard to the expansion of other renewable energies and strengthen the domestic economy.

And in Germany - once hailed as a pioneer of the global energy transition - the government is also planning measures to drive forward the faltering expansion of renewables. Following the adoption of the so-called 'Easter package', a second set of measures is to follow in summer. Among other things, this is intended to help the limping wind industry get back on its feet, which has repeatedly been slowed down by lengthy approval processes, environmental protection lawsuits and distance regulations within the federal states.

That this is necessary is shown by the results of the last tender round on May 1, which was once again undersigned. Only recently, with Saxony, another federal state adopted its own distance regulations between wind turbines and buildings, and distance regulations are also being discussed in other federal states. With a regulation by the federal government, Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck could enforce that uniform distance regulations apply throughout Germany, since federal law beats state law and would put an end to the patchwork, as reported by Die Zeit.

An important step for more planning security, as BWE President Hermann Albers emphasizes: "The industry stands ready and faces the challenges. In view of the massively changed framework conditions caused by global upheavals, political flanking is needed."
Like a firm hand from above.

Katrin Radtke
climate change, climate protection, law, policy, solar, wind, USA, China, Germany, state, government, measure, Paris Clinate Agreement

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