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07 Feb 2022, 13:51
Jessica Bateman Benjamin Wehrmann

Energy price hike erodes approval of phase-out in eastern German coal regions – survey

Clean Energy Wire

Rising energy costs have led to a drop in approval ratings for Germany’s coal exit in eastern German mining regions, according to the Central Germany Monitor survey commissioned by an association of regional governments. The survey monitors attitudes on the coal phase-out and structural change amongst those living in coalfield regions. Despite a fundamental approval of the energy turnaround and a high level of acceptance for renewable energies in Germany, it found that support in the coal region for the phase-out in the next decade dropped to 48 percent support, from 56 percent last year. The number of opponents rose significantly, from 29 to 40 percent. Support also dropped for the planned nuclear phase out, scheduled to be completed at the end of the year, with just 40 percent in favour compared to 58 percent in 2020. “Especially rising costs for energy and mobility are causing dismay,” said project manager Werner Bohnenschäfer. In order to guarantee long-term acceptance in the coal region, climate action would have to be accompanied by support measures to ensure a just transiton and efficient resource use, he argued. However, more than half of the respondents said an economic transition away from coal is needed in the region, with the approval for more renewable energy sources remaining high. Solar power expansion was backed by 87 percent of respondents and wind power and bioenergy by about 70 percent each. Many of those surveyed in the region (42%) also said green hydrogen production could become an important pillar for the local economy.

The German government’s stated goal of moving the country’s coal exit deadline forward from 2038 to 2030 has already sparked concerns among localy mayors and businesses in eastern and western lignite mining regions, with local being concerned that the transition will not be possible in just under a decade despite billions of euros in support.

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