09 May 2019, 14:00
Benjamin Wehrmann

Env min says Germany’s coal exit likely to happen “much faster” than by 2038

Clean Energy Wire

The German coal exit will likely be completed before the 2038 end-date agreed on by the country’s coal exit commission, environment minister Svenja Schulze has said. “This will happen much faster in the end,” Schulze said at an event organised by civil society network Climate Alliance Germany. The minister said that for all of its flaws, the commission’s coal exit roadmap was a good compromise that warranted careful implementation in order to avoid social hardships and political frustration. Ultimately, however, it is likely to play out much more swiftly than many observers believe thanks to the fast-growing role of renewable energy sources and the increasing cost of burning fossil fuels, Schulze said, adding that meeting the 2030 goal of 65 percent renewables in power consumption would be necessary for this to happen. The minister said Germany’s new climate cabinet would help to accelerate important legislation to bring down emissions across the board and that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s authority, coupled with her wish to get ahead in climate policy, could be helpful to make meaningful progress. “It’s easier to say ‘No’ to me than to the chancellor,” Schulze said with a view to her fellow ministers’ reluctance to provide sectoral emissions reduction plans in line with Germany’s envisaged Climate Action Law. The pressure created by possible EU sanctions due to infraction of the block’s emissions reduction effort sharing had also helped “set things in motion”, she noted. A carbon price in Germany would be “no panacea but an important building block” in this respect, Schulze added.

While the coal exit commission recommended that Germany’s coal exit take place by 2038 at the latest, it also provided for several review stages to gauge progress in terms of supply security, cost stability and emissions reduction and to adjust the exit date accordingly, possibly bringing it forward to 2035. Renewables expansion is made difficult by increasing resistance and possible legislation against unfettered onshore wind power growth. The climate cabinet is supposed to foster political consensus on the issue as well as on the Climate Action Law and the debate around the minimum carbon price.

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