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Germany’s IG BCE and chemical employers call for just transition

27 September, 2012IndustriALL’s German affiliate IG BCE has issued a joint policy paper with employer associations regarding the effects of the energy transition in Germany on the chemicals industry.

The joint letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel from IG BCE, the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) and the Federal Chemical Employers’ Association (BAVC), appeals to the Chancellor to ensure that the transition in Europe’s largest economy to sustainable energy production be cost effective and socially fair.

The paper emphasizes the importance of energy to the energy-intensive chemical industry in Germany, and the continued need into the future of an affordable and reliable source of electricity. The union and employers agree that the conversion of energy supply should not create competitive disadvantages for the industry.

The IG BCE conducts industry-wide collective bargaining with the BAVC, on behalf of 550,000 chemical workers employed at some 1,900 companies. The paper is signed by IG BCE President Michael Vassiliadis, VCI President Klaus Engel, and BAVC President Eggert Voscherau.

The German Renewable Energy Act (EEG) was passed into law in 2000. That legislation encourages energy efficiency and led to a massive boost in renewable energies in Germany. The cost of EEG provisions is paid for by customers and not by the tax payer in Germany. It has already caused a large shift from fossil and atomic energy supplies to renewable energy sources and a large shift from centralized electricity structures towards a decentralized approach of energy production, dispersing production from a small number of large companies.

IG BCE, VCI and BAVC say that the EEG and energy tax exist to ensure competitiveness and the preservation of jobs. Central questions about the energy transition remain unanswered though, especially on the security of supply, the much needed development of networks and plants, and the social factor.

The joint declaration states:

The chemical industry has a long tradition, to improve its own energy efficiency. As a result, the industry has reduced its energy consumption during the period 1990-2010 by 20 per cent, while production increased by 58 per cent in the same period.

Around 17 per cent of electricity in Germany is now generated by renewables. The renewable energy industry in Germany employs around 350,000 people.