Happy July, energy enthusiasts! I am still diligently digging into EPA’s carbon regulations and the global coal community. In my last two posts, I explored international reactions to Obama’s costly climate plan. Recently I learned that another nation can help us in our scrutiny – Germany. Like the U.S., Germany is one of the world’s wealthiest and most developed nations, with a particularly strong industrial sector. Germany is also a great example of why President Obama should take a step back and re-evaluate his Climate Action Plan which isn’t revolutionary, and is destined to cause us significant economic harm with no meaningful benefits.
In 1997, Germany went down the path that Obama is singularly determined to take and as result they are currently trying to recover from the economic damage wrought as a result.
Let’s take a look back and see what led Germany down this dangerous path.
In 1997 several countries met in Kyoto, Japan to discuss climate change and actions to address the issue. After this meeting, Germany was determined to go down in climate history by embracing climate action and implementing “Energiewende,” which translates to “energy transformation.” The lust for a climate legacy sounds all too familiar, as does the approach which was based on the following tenants:
- A dramatic shift from coal to renewable energy (primarily solar and wind)
- A complicated system of subsidies for renewable energy technology
- An additional fee, or surcharge, on all electric bills to fund the subsidies for renewables
If this doesn’t ring a bell, it should. This bureaucratic approach to energy policy is eerily similar to Obama’s plan. Not only does the Obama administration not acknowledge this, but it also fails to take into consideration the results of Germany’s failed quest.
Upon Energiewende’s implementation, power prices shot up to the highest in the European Union. In an effort to loosen the chokehold that power prices had on their income, German citizens asked the government to subsidize renewable energy technology for their homes. In order for the government to provide these subsidies, however, the already extra surcharge on power bills had to be increased. The increased surcharge then led businesses to plea for surcharge discounts to continue to power the industrial sector, the foundation of Germany’s economy. To compound the distress, the country faced these issues in the dark as power shortages were not uncommon. After all of this unnecessary and costly trouble, carbon emissions still increased. This vicious cycle ultimately caused Germans to cry for end to the pursuit of a climate legacy and instead to build back up reliable, affordable power sources.
In January 2014, Germany’s power prices decreased for a fourth consecutive year, primarily because they are using the highest amount of coal-fired power in more than a decade. To keep prices trending in the right directions, officials are making plans for the construction of eight new coal-fired power plants. Germany now realizes how critical coal is as an abundant, affordable, and reliable fuel source. Sadly, we cannot say the same for our misguided leaders.
Germany’s failed climate crusade serves as proof that aggressive climate policies, like those being pushed by our President, will not work. I am saddened that President Obama’s need for a climate legacy is taking priority over the well-being of this nation. While Americans will have to struggle to light their homes and put food on their tables, we can only hope our president will acknowledge the failed actions of others like Germany and keep America from following the same destructive path.