Just before summer break, Germany’s parliament finally committed to phasing out coal. But the conservative government’s plan doesn’t really call for meaningful shutdowns until 2023 as coal capacity slowly rolls offline through 2038. Instead, the law greenlights a large new coal plant while awarding billions of Euros in direct payments to the aggrieved coal operators and affected regional governments, directly ignoring key recommendations of the once celebrated Coal Commission. Though Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition and industry heaped praise upon it, environmentalists and opposition parties condemned the exit plan as a golden parachute for an already dying industry that won’t ensure the nation meets its Paris Climate Agreement commitments. Michael Buchsbaum has the details.
A year after Germany’s 28-member “Coal Commission” presented a fragile compromise brown coal phase-out, in mid-January Merkel’s Grand Coalition government formally released their own plan. Breaking with the Commission’s recommendations by slowing down the pace of the phase-out, immediately greenlighting the new Datteln 4 hard coal plant and showering RWE and other coal operators with billions of Euros, it also calls for more gas plants and additional wind turbine construction limitations. Neither ensuring Germany can adhere to the Paris Agreement nor its own clean energy targets, environmental groups are outraged as investors celebrate. L. Michael Buchsbaum takes us into the dirty deal.
Partially inspired by Germany’s version, the Czech Coal Commission met for the first time earlier this summer. Though it’s creation was largely driven by the mass student protests that have fundamentally transformed the Czech debate on climate policy, only two of its nineteen members are from environmental organizations. With its final report due in less than a year, it’s still unclear if the commission will decide upon a coal phase out date or a surge in renewables instead of new nuclear power. To learn more, Klára Schovánková, head of the ecology program at Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Prague office, interviewed Coal Commission member, Jiří Koželouh, who also heads the energy program at Hnutí Duha, Friends of the Earth Czech Republic.
For most people, the transition away from coal and fossil fuels towards clean energy production is a remote idea. But for citizens living in a handful of towns located within Germany’s remaining brown coal mining districts, the Energiewende, or its increasingly slow progress, is anything but remote, L. Michael Buchsbaum explains.
Germany was once seen as the front-runner of the global energy transition, but it is now working against it at home and in Brussels, says L. Michael Buchbaum.
The German Coal Commission has recommended that all coal be phased out by 2038. But this trajectory won’t be quick enough to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, says L. Michael Buchsbaum.
At the end of January, the Commission on Growth, Structural Change and Employment, aka, the Coal Commission, finally released its 336-page report. Filled with economic observations and recommendations, it sets an end date of 2038 for Germany to close its last coal-fired power plant. L. Michael Buchsbaum reveals the most important facts of the report.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s so-called coal commission, officially the Commission on Growth, Structural Change and Employment, ended last year in deadlock as to how to end Germany’s long dependence on the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, lignite coal. L. Michael Buchsbaum reports.