17 Jun 2019, 12:47
Sven Egenter

Bavaria’s conservative state premier says Germany’s 2038 coal exit “too late”

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Germany’s planned exit from coal-fired power generation by 2038 is “too late from a climate policy perspective”, said Markus Söder, the Bavarian state premier and leader of the CSU, the Bavarian arm of chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU alliance, in an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung. “But: If we think about how we can do that, we need investment in new safe and affordable energy sources.” Söder critcised that the regions affected by the coal exit were set to get 40 billion euros as compensation. “With such investments we could achieve a massive boost to climate technologies.” In the interview, which he gave together with his Green counterpart from the state of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, Söder rejected a “one-sided” tax on car fuels and heating. “However, if the vehicle tax, the electricity tax or the renewable energy surcharge fall significantly or get scrapped altogether, this could be an interesting approach,” he said.

Germany’s federal government has decided to make 40 billion euros available to buffer the structural change caused by the coal exit plan in the coal mining regions. Industry powerhouse Bavaria, as one of the net payers among the federal states, has no coal mining and very few coal-fired power stations. Chancellor Merkel’s conservative alliance is under pressure to present ideas for more effective climate action – including a form of price on greenhouse gas emissions – as the Green Party has surpassed the CDU/CSU bloc in some opinion polls. Other CSU politicians, such as the party’s energy spokesman in the federal parliament Georg Nüsslein, have rejected a CO2 tax outright, saying tax cuts to boost climate-friendly alternatives were more promising.

Green politician Kretschmann said in the interview that in government, the party had to think about jobs and prosperity of all citizens. “Climate is an issue for all humanity not just a green playground. But: What would happen to climate protection if we get an economic crisis at the same time. I would be careful if we Greens would then have the same opinion poll ratings.” Kretschmann also said that the car industry – a source of jobs and wealth in both his state of Baden-Württemberg and neighbouring Bavaria – had to remain the backbone of the economy, and “reinvent” the car over the coming years. CSU politician Söder said the car industry had to deliver a new generation with climate-friendly engines: with synthetic fuels, fuel cells and new battery cars.

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