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Cablegate: Wirec - German Pledges and Reactions

VZCZCXRO0047
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHLZ
DE RUEHRL #0407/01 0921252
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011252Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0801
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BERLIN 000407

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR G, OES, AND EUR
STATE - PLEASE PASS CEQ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ENRG TRGY KGHG KPAO KSCA GM
SUBJECT: WIREC - GERMAN PLEDGES AND REACTIONS

REF: A. STATE 26870

B. 07 BERLIN 2077

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Many of Germany's pledges included in the
Washington International Action Program (WIAP) from the Washington
International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) were similar to
climate and energy measures already agreed to by the German Cabinet
in August 2007. Additional commitments included financial support
for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in developing
countries, as well as the promotion of experience exchanges between
countries that use a Feed-In-System. Members of the German
delegation, while pleased with the scope and overall organization of
the conference, expressed concern that WIREC was too heavily focused
on nuclear energy and on the U.S. domestic market. They also noted
that WIREC did not send a "political signal," and could have
included more direct participation by developing countries and NGOs.
END SUMMARY.

GERMANY'S PLEDGES
-----------------

2. (U) Three of Germany's pledges to the WIAP corresponded with
energy and climate measures that were agreed on by the German
Government at the August 2007 Meseberg cabinet retreat and
subsequently presented to the German Federal Parliament in December
2007. These included a commitment to feed biogas into the natural
gas network, along with measures subsequently outlined in the
Renewable Energies Heat Act and Renewable Energy Sources Act (see
ref B). For example, Germany will expand its use of wind energy to
15 percent of electricity consumption and provide additional funding
for renewable energy technology research.

3. (U) Pledges not included in the August 2007 Government agreement
came primarily from the German Development Ministry (BMZ) as they
dealt with foreign, rather than domestic issues. Specifically, BMZ
will increase its funding for new renewable energy and energy
efficiency projects that help developing countries meet their
Millenium Development Goals (550 million euro). In addition, it will
allocate 200 million euro for soft loan financing to promote
renewable energy projects that cannot qualify for corporate
financing. Finally, BMZ committed to promote experience exchanges
between countries that are using a Feed-In-System (which feeds
biogas into the natural gas network).

GERMAN FEEDBACK AND REACTIONS
-----------------------------

4. (SBU) Select members of the German delegation to WIREC, mostly at
the working- and head of section level, have provided post with
feedback on the conference. Participants by and large reported that
they were impressed with the scope and organization of WIREC,
including the Ministerial, business conference, and trade show.
Participants commented that U.S. views on renewable energies have
evolved over the past year and pointed favorably to new steps taken
by the Administration to promote renewable energy. Participants
also noted that the diversity of countries in attendance indicates
that discussion of renewables has risen to a new level of
prominence. Although impressed by the number of high-ranking U.S.
officials in attendance, some delegation members expressed concern
that the U.S. presence dominated the conference, which often made
WIREC's focus seem more domestic than international.

5. (SBU) Most German participants expressed concern about the
emphasis placed on nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels,
noting that nuclear is not a viable solution for many of the
countries in attendance. (NOTE: These comments are not surprising
given strong feelings in Germany about nuclear energy. END NOTE.)
German delegation members said they would have preferred more focus
on wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass alternatives.
Participants also noted that most discussions were, for the most
part, U.S.-focused (e.g., potential revenue opportunities in the
renewable energy market). That said, many expressed strong interest
in learning more about the development of the U.S. renewable energy
market.

6. (SBU) German participants also expressed concern that, unlike
past conferences, such as those held in Bonn and Beijing, this
conference was an experts meeting. Because there were no political
opinions or resolutions, they insisted, WIREC did not send a
"political signal." As a result, many interlocutors insisted, WIREC
generated little enthusiasm and received almost no media coverage in
Germany.

7. (SBU) Members of the German delegation also expressed
disappointment that African countries, with which Germany maintains
very close relations in terms of developmental policy, were not
sufficiently represented. Participants noted that growth in
renewable energies will occur primarily in developing countries and
said engaging developing countries in dialogue about the challenge

BERLIN 00000407 002 OF 002


those countries face is essential to the promotion of renewable
energy. German participants viewed India's offer to host the next
global renewable energy conference in 2010 as a key outcome.

8. (SBU) German participants also expressed concern about the lack
of NGO participation in WIREC, pointing out that no German NGO
attended WIREC, ostensibly because of the high conference fee. Some
interlocutors asserted that, contrary to the prior two conferences
in Bonn and Beijing, NGOs were not invited to participate in the
planning process for WIREC.

COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) All of our German interlocutors characterized WIREC as a
net positive, primarily because they perceive the United States as
more engaged than before in promoting renewable energy.
Nonetheless, many within the German government are reluctant to
accept the U.S. as an important player in this field, in part
because they are wary of surrendering "ownership" of the issue (and
perhaps in part because of the resonance that climate change has in
domestic politics). Indeed, recent public comments by some
government officials indicate a concern to continue to portray
Germany as a leader on renewables and to promote a centralized,
top-down approach to promote the uptake of renewable energy. The
German proposal to establish an International Renewable Energy
Agency (IRENA) is the key example here. This may also help to
explain the German critique of WIREC, with its focus on promoting
decentralized, local solutions.

TIMKEN JR.

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