Government announces coal region support guidelines ahead of elections
Clean Energy Wire / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The German government cabinet has decided first key points for coal region support and plans to get the necessary legislation on its way “quickly”, the economy ministry said in a press release. With the decision, the government aims to lay the groundwork that the coal regions "use the coal exit as an opportunity“ and "turn into modern energy and economic regions”, said economy minister Peter Altmaier. The key points include up to 40 billion euros in support payments by 2038 to strengthen local infrastructure and to create thousands of jobs through locating research institutions in former coal regions and incentivising private companies to invest there. Altmaier said the he is confident that the measures regrding the coal exit mean that Germany will "almost certainly" meet its energy sector 2030 climate target and "in all likelihood" is also on track for the 2050 target. He added that the government aims to put all measures in the most relevant areas regarding Germany's coal exit into law before the end of the year. Apart from economic support for coal regions, this also includes the phase-out plan for coal-fired power plants outlined by the coal exit commission as well as an adjusted expansion roadmap for renewable energy sources.
In an opinion piece in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Andreas Mihm writes that the government is under pressure to act fast, as it must decide how to implement the coal exit commission’s recommendations to be able to include them in the climate action legislation planned for late 2019. “On the other hand, state elections are scheduled for September and October in Saxony, Brandenburg and Thuringia. Until then, the promised financial commitments should be so tangible that no one in Lusatia or in the Central German mining district will have to vote for parties on the far right or far left for fear of economic decline or in protest,” writes Mihm. Germany’s coal state governments had “used the situation as well as possible” by estimating the phase-out costs highly “so that the federal government will set up large funding pools”, writes Mihm.
Germany’s planned coal exit is expected to cause billions of euros in costs for the public, as the country’s coal exit commission agreed on far-reaching measures to financially assist the affected regions and coal workers and to invest in dozens of infrastructure and training projects. The government has said it aims to maintain the mining areas as “energy regions” and to develop corresponding infrastructure for the production and storage of energy from renewable sources.