Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Germany lays out a path to quit coal by 2038

  • >>Melissa Eddy, The New York Times
    Published: 2019-01-27 12:33:26 BdST

bdnews24
The Welzow-Sud open-cast coal mine in Germany’s Brandenburg state, Dec 11, 2015. Germany will spend tens of billions of dollars to end its use of coal power within two decades, if a January 2019 plan agreed to by representatives of the power industry, environmental movement, miners and local interest groups becomes official policy. The New York Times

Germany will spend tens of billions of dollars to end its use of coal power within two decades, if a plan agreed to early Saturday by representatives of the power industry, environmental movement, miners and local interest groups becomes official policy.

The deal, hammered out after more than 20 hours of negotiating among a 28-member commission appointed last year by Chancellor Angela Merkel, would be one of the most significant energy transformations a nation has yet attempted in the face of climate change.

Thirty countries have already set out proposals to cut their carbon emissions by eliminating coal, the dirtiest and cheapest fossil fuel, including Britain, Canada and Sweden. But none of those plans are of the scale laid out in Germany, an industrial giant that relies on coal for almost a third of its energy needs.

The commission’s plan requires approval from the leaders of four states affected and the federal government.

It would come at a heavy price to taxpayers, who would provide the 40 billion euros earmarked for investment in regions hardest hit by job losses over the next two decades, along with other costs that include compensation in amounts yet to be determined for power companies taking coal plants offline early.

Solid compensation was a key demand for governors in coal-heavy eastern states, where the populist Alternative for Germany party is expected to perform strongly in regional elections next year partly on a platform of hostility to measures fighting climate change.

Still, a majority of Germans have said they want their country to quit coal and uphold their commitments to the Paris Climate Accord — to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent to 95 percent by 2050.

“This is a historic effort,” Ronald Pofalla, head of the commission, told reporters, stressing that each of the interest groups had accepted concessions.

The plan calls for about a quarter of Germany’s coal plants — 12.5 gigawatts’ worth — to shut by 2022.

Reviews of those measures and other planned reductions are scheduled every three years.

The final deadline for ending coal use is 2038, but could be moved forward to 2035. A review in 2032 will decide.

© 2019 New York Times News Service