Germany should keep coal exit roadmap as flexible as possible – energy agency head
Germany’s government must implement the key recommendations given by its coal exit commission, but the proposal should not be followed to the letter to maintain necessary flexibility in climate policy over the coming years, writes Andreas Kuhlmann, head of the German Energy Agency (dena) in a guest commentary in Tagesspiegel Background. “A rigid word-for-word implementation of the commission's proposals for the next 20 years would deprive us of any room for manoeuvre in the event that the energy transition and climate action are hampered [in transport, buildings and industry],” writes Kuhlmann. Germany needs a “flexible risk management” to be able to act, for example if the country does not reach its goal of expanding the share of renewables in power consumption to 65 percent by 2030, or if other sectors like transport move too slowly. A cross-sectoral CO₂ price could still be an important option despite the fact that the detailed coal exit commission recommendations are not modelled around it.
Germany has officially set in motion a gradual withdrawal from coal, joining other major economies in a global farewell to the climate-damaging fossil fuel. The coal commission recommended shutting down the last coal-fired power plant by 2038 at the latest. Chancellor Angela Merkel's government coalition has to decide how to implement the non-binding proposal and draft the necessary legislation. Many details have yet to be worked out and ultimately decided upon by parliamentarians in a process that could drag on into 2020.