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Bundesregierung / Güngör

Trump on 'Direct Collision Course' With G20 Over Climate

By Andy Rowell

So the G20 summit is starting in Hamburg in Germany, after a day of angry protests which saw dozens arrested.

As the talks commence, the new international "Climate Pariah," Donald Trump, is going to come under intense pressure from the G20 to reconsider pulling out of the Paris agreement.

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Germany Breaks Record: Produces 35% of Electricity From Renewables so Far This Year

Germany has broken another renewable energy record but officials say there's still room for improvement. The German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) reported Sunday that the combined share of renewable energy in the electricity, transport and heating sectors was 15.2 percent in the first half of 2017, up from 14.8 percent during the same period last year.

For the electricity sector alone, renewables supplied a record 35 percent of the country's power in the first six months of 2017, about a 2 percent increase from 2016's numbers. To compare, renewables accounted for only 15 percent of the United States' total electricity generation in 2016.

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Greenpeace activists in Berlin projected an image of Donald Trump on the U.S. Embassy. Michael Sohn / DPA

World Leaders to Trump: You're on Your Own

The overwhelming global response to President Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement was essentially, "Go jump in a lake"—or as one Germany tabloid succinctly phrased it in a widely circulated headline:

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Germany Breaks Record: 85% of Energy Comes From Renewables Last Weekend

Germany's "Energiewende"—the country's low-carbon energy revolution—turned another successful corner last weekend when renewable energy sources nearly stamped out coal and nuclear.

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Photo credit: RAG-AG

Germany Converts Coal Mine Into Giant Battery Storage for Surplus Solar and Wind Power

Germany is embarking on an innovative project to turn a hard coal mine into a giant battery that can store surplus solar and wind energy and release it when supplies are lean.

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Germany Bans Meat at Official Functions to 'Set a Good Example for Climate Protection'

Eating less meat is essential to curbing climate change, which is why Germany's Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks is only serving vegetarian food at official functions.

"We want to set a good example for climate protection, because vegetarian food is more climate-friendly than meat and fish," the ministry said in a statement published in The Telegraph. The ban was reportedly enacted at the end of January.

The German newspaper Bild also reported that the food served at official events should be organic, seasonal, local and only travel from short distances. Fair trade products are also preferable.

Indeed, as one of the greenest countries on the planet, the German environment ministry wants its plates to lead by example.

Slashing meat consumption saves the lives of animals, lowers our carbon footprint and leads to better health. A study from the Oxford Martin School found that diets of limited meat consumption can cut emissions by a third while saving 5 million lives, vegetarian diets could reduce emissions by 63 percent and save 7 million lives, and vegan diets could reduce emissions by 70 percent and save 8 million lives.

But what about seafood? Well, the world's appetite for fish and shrimp is also stressing out supplies. A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report found that nearly 90 percent of global fish stocks are either fully fished or overfished. Global fish consumption per capita has reached record-high levels due to aquaculture and firm demand, with the average person now eating roughly 44 pounds of fish per year compared to only 22 pounds in the 1960s, the report found.

For a meat-loving nation known for its sausages, schnitzel and cold cuts, the message was not welcomed by all.

Rival German politicians have accused Hendricks, a member of the Social Democratic Party, of forcing vegetarianism on people and leveraging the meat ban as political ammo. The Social Democrats are challenging the Christian Democrats, Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, in this year's tight race for German Chancellor.

"I'm not having this Veggie Day through the back door," said Christian Schmidt, minister of food and agriculture and Christian Democrat. "I believe in diversity and freedom of choice, not nanny-statism and ideology. Instead of paternalism and ideology. Meat and fish are also part of a balanced diet."

Others have also accused Hendricks of hypocrisy in that the meat ban only applies to official functions. Ministry officials would still be able to consume meat or fish in the staff canteen.

"You have to eat what's on the table according to the will of the ministry. No meat, no fish, and the cover of 'climate protection,'" Gitta Conneman, a senior MP and Christian Democrat, told Bild. "They won't save the climate by branding people who eat meat, and they know this. The ban only applies to a handful of guests, not to 1,200 employees. This is pure ideology, a 'people's education' for the diet."

But the ministry said it wants to be a "role model" and justified their provision to fight the negative "effects of the consumption of meat."

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The 300-passenger Coradia iLint regional train uses fuel cell technology to run up to 87 miles per hour. Alstom

World's First Zero-Emissions Hydrogen Train Unveiled in Germany

Germany will soon launch the world first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission passenger train.

The Coradia iLint, developed by French rail transport company Alstom, was presented last month at InnoTrans, the railway industry's largest trade fair.

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World's First Wind-Hydro Farm Supplies Power Even When There's No Wind

Germany will soon be home to a groundbreaking wind farm that solves a big problem with wind power: What happens when the wind isn't blowing?

Max Bögl Facebook

General Electric's (GE) renewable energy arm has signed a turbine-supply agreement with German construction company Max Bögl to develop the world's first wind farm with an integrated hydropower plant capable of generating power even when there's no breeze.

According to GE Reports, project "Gaildorf" consists of four wind turbines scattered along a hill in the Swabian-Franconian Forest. These towers are unique in two ways. First, they will stand at a record-breaking height of 584 feet once built. Second, at the base of each tower is a water reservoir containing 1.6 million gallons of water. The four towers are daisy chained by a channel that takes water down a valley to a 16-megawatt pump/generator hydropower plant. The site will house another reservoir holding 9 million gallons of water for additional water storage.

Here's how it all works, as GE Reports simply explains:

"The big idea here is that the wind will generate electricity when it's, well, windy, and the water will act as a giant battery that will discharge and modulate output when it stops blowing.

"When electricity is needed, water flowing downhill from the reservoirs will power the hydro plant. When the energy supply is high, the hydro plant will pump the water back up the hill to the reservoirs and will act as the giant battery."

The four wind turbines are connected by a channel that takes water down to a hydro plant.GE Reports

The beauty of this project is that stored hydropower can offset the unpredictability of wind power.

"The Gaildorf project marks a major step forward in balancing power demand and supply fluctuations using renewable energy sources," GE said in a statement. "The combined wind and hydropower plant will provide balancing power for fast-response stabilization of the grid, maintaining a low cost of electricity for residents in Germany."

The wind farm alone will generate 13.6 megawatts of energy while the hydropower plant can generate 16 megawatts. The turbines are scheduled to be commissioned by the end of 2017. The Gaildorf project is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2018.

“We are very excited to collaborate with Max Bögl on this pilot project; a first for the industry," Anne McEntee, president and CEO of GE's Onshore Wind business, said. "We are committed to exploring innovative renewable energy technologies that have the potential to improve grid flexibility in Europe and around the world."

As GE Reports noted, this innovative plant will help Germany move toward its goal of generating at least 45 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030.

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No Combustion-Engine Cars Sold in Germany After 2030, Parliament Says

On Jan. 29, 1886, Carl Benz—who had invented the first stationary gasoline engine seven years earlier—patented a "vehicle powered by a gas engine," which he had built in Mannheim, Germany. By 2030, the country may ban his invention.

The world's first automobile, invented in 1886.Mercedes-Benz

Germany's Bundesrat, its upper house of parliament, passed a bipartisan resolution calling for a ban on sales of new vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, which includes both gasoline and diesel.

"If the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions is to be taken seriously, no new combustion engine cars should be allowed on roads after 2030," weekly news magazine Der Spiegel quoted Green Party lawmaker Oliver Krischer as saying.

The shockwaves from this action, reported over the weekend, haven't quite hit the global auto industry or German manufacturers just yet. Germany has one of the largest automotive industries in the world, and it is the biggest industrial sector in Germany. Automobile manufacturing and related businesses employ 774,900 German workers and account for one-fifth of German industry revenue.

The country is also Europe's top automobile market, and U.S.-based manufacturers do big business there as well. General Motors sold 244,000 vehicles in Germany in 2015, while Ford is on track to sell 280,000 vehicles this year. The Ford Mustang is the most popular sports car in Germany. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sold 90,000 vehicles there last year, with its U.S.-built Jeep brand growing strongly.

The company that Carl Benz started, today's Mercedes-Benz, is investing $1.1 billion in battery production and plans to launch 10 new electric vehicles (EVs) by 2025. The company says that every model series will be electrified. BMW is expanding its EV lineup, while Volkswagen—reeling from its diesel emissions scandal—announced that it plans to sell three million electric cars by 2025. At the current 2016 Paris Auto Show, virtually every major auto manufacturer is showcasing new electric or hybrid vehicles.

The Bundesrat resolution would require only electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2030, and Germany's action is likely to precipitate wider European Union policy.

"We're ready for the launch of an electric product offensive that will cover all vehicle segments, from the compact to the luxury class," said Daimler AG Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche at the opening of the Paris Auto Show in September. Daimler is the parent company of Mercedes-Benz. The company that invented the automobile now needs to reinvent itself.

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