01 Dec 2021, 14:47
Benjamin Wehrmann

German coal state premier encourages protests against new govt’s 2030 exit plans

Der Spiegel

Conservative (CDU) state premier Michael Kretschmer from Saxony, an Eastern German coal mining state, has encouraged labour unions to protest against plans by the prospective new federal government to pull forward the country’s coal exit by eight years to 2030, news magazine Der Spiegel reported. At an event hosted by the German Trade Union Association (DGB), Kretschmer told unionists to “not meekly accept” the decision by the Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party and the Free Democrats (FDP), who look set to form a three party coalition before mid-December.

Kretschmer was a member of the country’s coal exit commission, on whose recommendations the outgoing CDU/SPD government based its decision to end coal-fired power production no later than 2038. Kretschmer said phasing out coal several years earlier than planned would amount to “a violation of trust” that coal workers had put into the existing plan. The CDU politician argued it would be impossible to create thousands of new jobs for the current coal workers in the remaining time until 2030. In contrast, Kretschmer’s fellow state premier Dietmar Woidke (SPD) from eastern coal state Brandenburg said leaving coal earlier would be possible without damaging coal workers and regions. Woidke, who also participated in the coal exit commission, said the Lusatia coal region in Brandenburg could become a European model for successful transformation away from fossil fuels. “We have a great opportunity,” Woidke said.

The so-called “traffic light coalition” parties, named after the party colours of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP, respectively, had said in their joint coalition treaty that coal power should be “ideally” phased out no later than 2030, provided that supply security is not jeopardised and energy remains affordable. Many climate researchers agree that the prospective government’s aim to comply with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will only be possible if coal is exited earlier and quickly replaced with renewable energy sources.

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