25 Oct 2021, 13:37
Edgar Meza

Mining union and coal state premier oppose plans for earlier coal exit

dpa / Stern

Germany's mining labour union and the premier of a lignite mining state have warned against speeding up the country's coal exit under a new government. In their current negotiations for a possible coalition government, the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) have discussed the idea of speeding up the coal exit from 2038 to 2030. Germany’s powerful mining, chemicals and energy trade union IG BCE has denounced the plan as “symbolic politics”. The exit date was not simply a random choice, but a deadline selected “because it is achievable under current conditions”, IG BCE chairman Michael Vassiliadis told news organization RND, according to a report by newswire dpa carried by Stern magazine. If the next government wants to bring the date forward, it will have to explain how that should work, he added. “As of today, 2030 is a symbol, nothing more." 

Conservative Saxony premier Michael Kretschmer of the conservative CDU also said the new federal government had to abide by the exit agreement, the Stern magazine reported separately. "We have a special interest in Central Germany not to simply lose jobs and suffer a shock in the region," he told regional broadcaster MDR. Speaking to national broadcaster ARD, Kretschmer reiterated his demand, stressing that there were laws and agreements in place for the end of coal-fired power generation by 2038. “And they can't be cancelled so quickly now,” he added, warning that the new government could lose credibility among the public if it went back on the agreement. “How are citizens going to believe anything at all?” An earlier exit would be the death knell for the coal-mining region of Lusatia, he added, noting that the area desperately needs the time until 2038 to build up its infrastructure and attract new jobs in order to remain competitive.

Germany agreed on a phase-out schedule for coal and support payments for affected regions in 2020, but the agreement had been criticised ever since for falling short of delivering the emissions reduction required for meeting international climate targets in time. Almost all parties, including the CDU, have said a much earlier end to coal than 2038 would very well be possible due to market forces alone, as increasingly expensive greenhouse gas emissions allowances in the EU trading system ETS make a profitable operation of the plants unviable.

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