14 Feb 2019, 14:11
Julian Wettengel

Greens call for implementing coal exit proposal fast

Clean Energy Wire

The opposition Green parliamentary group has called on the federal government to introduce concrete proposals to implement the coal exit commission's recent recommendations. Germany cannot wait until summer to come up with these, said Green Party co-head Annalena Baerbock in a Bundestag debate on 14 February. “The climate crisis will not wait. It’s happening every day, even here in Germany,” said Baerbock.

State secretary in the economy ministry Oliver Wittke said implementing the phase-out would take some time, in part because Germany's regional states have to weigh in on lignite mining plans. “You’re throwing sand in people's eyes when you tell them that everything can happen quickly, and that next week we can tell them exactly what will happen” regarding the coal exit, he said.

Andreas Lämmel of the governing conservative CDU/CSU group said the government is in the process of examining the commission’s recommendations and will present its first proposals to Parliament this spring. The process needs time, he told parliamentarians. Johann Saathoff of the government’s junior coalition partner SPD said that a whole range of German energy laws have to be amended to implement the coal exit, including the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) and grid planning laws. A reform of the energy taxes and levies system will also be necessary, he said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

The business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) introduced a motion saying the debate over an end date for coal is “purely symbolic”, because no company would ever invest in a new coal power plant in Germany and there are no plans for new mines. It calls on the government to present a timetable for projects in the mining regions, and an assessment on the financial and energy industry impacts of ending coal.

The right-wing populist AfD is demanding the government reject the recommendations of the coal exit commission, and focus instead on saving jobs in the coal industry. But AfD still wants the financial support for structurally weak regions proposed by the commission.

Germany’s coal exit commission presented its long-awaited recommendations late last month, but the decision-making process on phasing out the fossil fuel in the Energiewende’s home country is far from over. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition must now decide how to implement the proposal and draft the necessary legislation. Many details are still undecided, and the government has revealed little about its plans for the way forward. But Parliament will have the last word in the process, which could continue through the end of 2019.

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