27 Aug 2019, 13:22
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany and US on par in coal phase-out ranking

Clean Energy Wire

The plan by a government commission to phase out coal in Germany by 2038 has helped improve the country's position in a ranking on coal exit progress made by NGO E3G, which puts it on par with the US at rank five among the G7 group of wealthy states. "This positive step forward needs to be implemented into law, while the end date should be accelerated to 2030 to align with international climate goals," E3G said. The ranking also acknowledges the plan by German development bank KfW to cease funding coal projects, although this shift has not been fully completed yet, the NGO said. Despite efforts by US President Donald Trump to shield the national coal industry, plant retirements have continued steadily in the country. "Altogether, the evolution of these trends is fuelling coal’s demise across the G7, setting a point of no return for the use of coal in the power sector," E3G said.
Meanwhile, a study commissioned by the economy ministry of Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, and carried out by the EWI economic research institute found that the coal exit roadmap would make it possible to reach national 2030 emissions reduction targets in the energy sector. The EWI also found that power prices are poised to rise with a coal exit in Germany, although the bulk of price increases would be due to higher prices for emissions certificates in the European Union's Emissions Trading System (ETS). EWI therefore recommends helping energy-intensive companies with support payments to remain competitive internationally if national power prices go up.

The commission's phase-out proposal has been widely welcomed by most stakeholders in Germany but former members have criticised the government for not implementing the results fast enough, especially with respect to shutting down the first coal plants. Germany's economy ministry (BMWi) released its first legislation proposal for financial support of coal mining regions in August but it has yet to decide on a law for the phaseout roadmap and possible compensation payments for plant owners. 

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