Fall in lignite power shows CO₂ price effective – opinion
Exceptionally low power production from coal plants in the first half of 2019 shows that price signals are an effective way to protect the climate, Theo Geers writes in an opinion piece for Deutschlandfunk. He argues that a higher price on CO₂ emissions could bring about a faster coal exit. However, conservative politicians in the German government are still reluctant to put a price on carbon emissions across all sectors, which they see as akin to a tax hike, Geers says. Rather than deciding to shut down particular plants at particular times, the government could use CO₂ pricing as a signal to “easily, elegantly” let the market decide.
The increased price of emissions allowances under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), as well as low gas prices, resulted in lignite plants producing 21 percent less power in the first six months of 2019 than over the same period last year. The German coal exit commission recommended phasing out lignite by 2038 at the very latest, without suggesting a clear timetable for plant shutdowns. Chancellor Angela Merkel's government must now decide how to implement this non-binding proposal, working out the details in a process that could last well into 2020.