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04 Nov 2021, 14:47
Kerstine Appunn

COP26 fossil fuel pledges increase pressure on next German govt to pull forward coal exit

In light of several fossil fuel phase-out pledges at the COP26 climate summit, researchers and activists have pointed out that Germany's planned coal exit date is far from ambitious enough and called on the next government coalition to pull it forward. As several countries joined a new statement to phase-out financing for coal but also for other fossil fuels, Germany's pledge to shift public overseas funding towards clean energies was pending internal government coordination, a spokesperson told Clean Energy Wire. Germany has committed to phasing out unabated coal plants in line with requirements for a 1.5°C target as part of the High Ambition Coalition. According to IEA calculations this entails a coal exit before 2030, a proposal that is currently part of the negotiations between the three parties aiming to form the new German government in December.

In light of several fossil fuel phase-out pledges at the UN climate change conference COP26, researchers and activists have pointed out that Germany's planned coal exit date is far from ambitious enough and called on the next government coalition to pull it forward. "The coal phase-out should not happen 'ideally' by 2030," said Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director at Europe Beyond Coal, referring to the wording Germany's prospective next government alliance used in a preliminary agreement. "A phase-out by then is inevitable." She added that the global community needs a clear commitment from the new German government at COP26 that coal will be phased out by 2030 as "the only way Germany can still be taken seriously in climate action."

In Glasgow, another 28 countries announced their commitment to the Powering Past Coal Alliance (of which Germany is a member) which now counts over 150 countries, cities, regions and companies working together to create their own coal phase-out and accelerate the global transition from coal to renewables. 190 countries and organisations (including Germany but also Poland and Vietnam for the first time) also signed up to a similar UK initiative called “Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement” in Glasgow.

Germany has committed to phasing out unabated coal plants in line with requirements for a 1.5°C target as part of the High Ambition Coalition. According to IEA calculations this entails a coal exit before 2030. Moving forward the coal phase-out from 2038 to 2030 is part of the negotiations between the three parties aiming to form the new German government in December. Charles Moore, Head of Europe at think tank Ember, called Germany’s current exit goal “embarrassing and unambitious”, particularly when comparing it with the target of a less developed country such as Ukraine. “The pressure on the new German government to present a more credible phase-out date is high,” he said.

The COP presidency announced today that 18 countries including the UK and U.S. have signed a statement aiming to shift overseas finance away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. However, Germany is not part of the group, pending internal coordination of the German government, a spokesperson told Clean Energy Wire. The statement ‘Aligning International Public Finance with the Clean Energy Transition’, presented by the UK government at COP26, includes ending all new direct international public finance for unabated fossil fuels by the end of 2022. The European Investment Bank (EIB) also signed up.

This is expected to give clean energy a financial boost of over 8 billion US dollars. Germany was part of this year’s G7 pledge to end international coal finance, but this statement goes further as it includes public oil and gas finance. According to NGOs Urgewald and DUH, the German government still finances overseas oil and gas projects through export guarantees (Euler Hermes) with a total volume of 11.75 billion euros. "It is disappointing that Germany is not participating in the initiative to no longer support fossil energy projects abroad with public funds,” Regine Richter of Urgewald said. A new federal government that is serious about climate protection must include it in economic promotion and stop supporting oil and gas projects abroad with billions, she said.

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