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Olaf Scholz at the opening of an LNG terminal in the Baltic Sea in January

Photo: Bloomberg / Bloomberg / Getty Images

The German government has received another preliminary request to take over billions in guarantees for liquefied natural gas supplies from the USA. So-called untied financial loans (UFK) amounting to the equivalent of around three billion euros are to be secured. This emerges from a written response from the Federal Government on 1 June. Ralph Lenkert, a member of parliament for the Left Party, had inquired whether the German government was planning such UFK guarantees for LNG deliveries.

The Federal Government does not have any ready-made applications. In addition to the preliminary request for U.S. deliveries, however, there are "several informal inquiries for the federal government's hedging options for LNG deliveries to Germany," according to the letter, which is available to SPIEGEL. UFK guarantees are usually issued by the German government directly to banks, which in turn invest in commodity projects abroad. These are projects "in the special state interest of the Federal Republic of Germany".

Last year, the German government also granted such guarantees amounting to three billion euros for LNG deliveries. According to experts, the federal government secured a deal from energy trader Trafigura to supply liquefied natural gas to the German company Sefe.

Is Germany violating international climate commitments?

The requests put the German government in a difficult situation because Germany committed itself in the Glasgow Declaration to withdraw from financing coal, oil and gas projects abroad by the end of 2022. In the meantime, 39 states have signed the declaration. They envisage ending "the new direct public support" of fossil fuels for energy production. Exceptions are only possible in "limited and clearly defined cases" if they are compatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

"Such guarantees would be a borderline case," says Niklas Höhne, a climate researcher at the NewClimate Institute. "But they are a fatal signal to the markets that German taxpayers' money is still available for foreign oil or gas projects." The fact that state money flows into fossil fuel projects must be stopped in view of the urgently needed phase-out of such climate-damaging energy sources, says Höhne.

"It would be dangerous and would not contribute to credibility if the German government preached climate protection and supported LNG purchases," says Regine Richter von Urgewald. The non-governmental organization regularly publishes reports on the financing of fossil fuels. "In any case, no one believes the chancellor's will to protect the climate, but for international climate diplomacy, a serious exit from public funding for fossil fuel projects abroad would be very important."

For months, the German government has been struggling to find a position on the Glasgow Declaration. According to insiders, the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Ministry of Economics as well as the Foreign Office in particular have different positions on this. An offer of cooperation in gas production from Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) to Senegalese President Macky Sall a year ago also plays a role.

To this day, it is not clear whether Germany will really participate in the exploitation of the gas field there. In contrast to the guarantees, experts see this as a clear breach of the Glasgow Agreement. Even before the last climate summit in Egypt, COP27, the German government wanted to explain itself regarding the Senegal offer.