Photo: Raimond Spekking / Wikipedia

Germany ready to move beyond coal

A government-appointed group of experts – including representatives from major industry – has agreed that Germany must close all of its coal-fired power stations in the coming years.

The final report of the ‘Coal Commission’ is the first time a broad consensus has been reached about the need to phase-out dirty coal from Europe’s biggest coal country.

Germany currently gets 40% of its electricity from burning coal.

The Commission’s proposal will now be considered by the German government, which will need to agree how to implement their recommendations.

Kathrin Gutmann, Campaign Director at Europe Beyond Coal said:

“The coal exit commission’s decision sends an international signal that coal is now over in the world’s 4th largest economy”

While many campaigners welcomed the headline phase-out agreement, overall reactions were mixed.

The Commission’s final report calls for more closures than expected in the next few years, but the date it proposes for the last coal plant to close – 2038 – has been dismissed as completely incompatible with meeting Germany’s commitments in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Martin Kaiser, of Greenpeace Germany, said:

“The coal phase out can, and must, be achieved long before 2038”

However some industry groups disagreed. German energy company RWE, recently revealed as the most toxic in Europe, criticised the 2038 date, telling the Guardian that the proposed deadline was “far too early“.

In a detailed analysis the independent think tank E3G highlighted the fact that many considered the agreement as “a start of a phase out process to be sped up, aiming to bring the exit date up to 2030.”

In some good news for the high-profile campaign to save the Hambach Forest, the Commission expressed its hope that the now infamous ancient woodland should be preserved.

The clearance work around the nearby giant open-cast mine also threatens villages there may now escape destruction, although tree-felling in the area has continued over the past few days.