24 Oct 2018, 12:16
Julian Wettengel

Workers protest as coal commission debates mining region perspectives

Clean Energy Wire

At a meeting in the Rhenish lignite mining region, Germany’s coal exit commission debated first proposals on how to cushion the effects of an exit from coal-fired power generation in affected regions. A draft interim report, seen by the Clean Energy Wire, the task force says that the goal is to create at least as many “future-proof” new jobs, as are affected by job losses in the coal industry. This did not just include jobs in the energy industry itself, but also industries with especially high energy needs. “The success of the energy system transformation in the context of global challenges will depend on the question […] of whether developments such as the accelerated phase-out of coal-fired power generation can be implemented fairly and without uncontrollable structural breaks,” says the preamble. The 1.5 billion euros earmarked in the current federal budget to support mining regions could only be “a first step” and support programmes had to be designed for decades. The measures to support affected regions have to be closely linked to the task force’s future recommendations for climate and energy policy, so the report will be updated over the course of the coming weeks, until the commission is due to present its final report at the end of the year. According to German media, the interim report could be decided tomorrow, 25 October.

Find background in the article Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out and the factsheet Germany’s three lignite mining regions.

The Clean Energy Wire will publish an article on the topic later today.

Tagesschau / Rheinische Post

While the coal exit commission meets in Rhenish mining district in the state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), thousands of coal workers protested for their jobs not far from the symbolic Hambach Forest, which energy company RWE wants to cut down to make way to expand a lignite mine, reports public news programme Tagesschau. More than 30,000 protesters took part in the demonstration, according to the organisers. The police spoke of about 20,000 participants.
In a separate live blog, Rheinische Post writes that NRW state premier Armin Laschet spoke at the coal commission meeting. In a statement to the press afterwards, he said: "I believe the role of the world climate is greater than the question of the Hambach Forest. I have just appealed to the commission to plan a sustainable exit over time and not to cling to symbols.”

Read the Tagesschau article in German here and the RP blog in German here.

Find background in the article Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out and the factsheet Germany’s three lignite mining regions.

Climate Analytics

Germany needs to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2030 to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement and help limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius, according to a report by Berlin-based non-profit climate science and policy institute Climate Analytics. Emissions from coal for electricity generation need to be reduced by 42 percent below 2017 levels by 2020 (equivalent to 60 percent below 1990 levels). “By rapidly phasing coal out of its electricity system by 2030, Germany could meet its 2020 emissions target, make massive health gains across the nation through reduced air pollution, and regain much needed momentum for a successful German Energiewende,” said Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, Head of Science and Impacts at Climate Analytics.

Find a press release in English here, a briefing in English here and the full report in English here.

Find background in the article Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out.

Financial Times

The traditional car industry is being hit by the adoption of electric vehicles, big data, tighter emissions limits and diesel bans, and German carmakers are faring the worst in many cases, writes Patrick McGee in Financial Times. It might not yet be clear who will build “an electric, self-driving “living room on wheels”, securely connected to the web and more often shared among users rather than bought”, but “the market is certain” it will not be Germany’s BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen, writes McGee.

Read the article in English here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier BMW, Daimler, and VW vow to fight in green transport revolution.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her proposal to adapt Germany’s emissions law to prevent diesel driving bans in cities where nitrogen oxide limits are only slightly exceeded. In an interview with public broadcaster hr-iNFO, Merkel said this would not amount to changing the existing EU nitrogen dioxide limit: “We're not adjusting the 40 microgram per cubic metre limit. That applies, that is European law.” The government assumed that with additional measures, such as retrofitting municipal vehicles and introducing software updates, “the limits will generally be reached fast” and driving bans would be a disproportionate measure. Merkel said tax money would be used “as a last resort at most” to support diesel car owners, while the car industry had to be held accountable “as much as possible”. “We are not yet at the end of our negotiations with the automobile industry.” Merkel also said that so far unused funds meant for the government’s e-mobility buyer’s premium could be “reassigned for other forms of mobility”.

Find the interview in German here.

Read the article Fresh Green upset in Hesse state election may derail Merkel government and the factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A.


Investors should get rid of coal company shares, such as those of German utility RWE, as these are risky at times of planned coal-exits around the world, writes Jan Erik Saugestad, CEO of Storebrand Asset Management, Norway's largest private asset manager, in a guest commentary in WirtschaftsWoche. “Coal stocks are toxic, and if an energy company expands its coal activities, there is only one option for us: exit.” Rising costs for CO₂ emissions will further lead to investors leaving energy companies that rely on coal, writes Saugestad.

Find the guest commentary in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article German financial sector expects EU standards to boost green finance and the interview Germany laggard in assessing fossil investment risks - Deutsche Börse.

Clean Energy Wire

There is much detail work to be done until the UN Climate Change Conference will start in Polish Katowice on 2 December, said the German environment ministry after a preparatory meeting in Kraków. However, the will of governments to agree on a rulebook for the Paris Agreement was “evident” at the talks. While the climate protection targets are set at the national level, implementation, measuring and monitoring must be binding for all at the international level, said state secretary in the environment ministry Jochen Flasbarth. “After Paris, the conference in Katowice will be a milestone in international climate policy,” he said.  

For background, read the CLEW articles Poland's Katowice COP: Next coal country hosting UN climate talks, and Finishing Paris Agreement rulebook at COP24 in Katowice “feasible” – German negotiator.

Deutsche Welle

On a visit to Germany, Polish President Andrzej Duda said the planned Russian-German gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 “should not be realised”, reports Deutsche Welle. At a joint press conference with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin, Duda said the pipeline would upset the “energy balance” and that he expected more solidarity and support for the Polish position from the European Commission, writes Deutsche Welle.

Read the article in English here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 links Germany to Russia, but splits Europe.

EurActiv / European Court of Auditors

EU-funded carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects have failed in the past largely because of a lack of coordination and long-term strategies that scared away investors, according to a report by the European Court of Auditors, reports Sam Morgan for EurActiv. The EU needs to adapt its new Innovation Fund to reach its objectives, write the auditors in a press release.

Read the article in English here, the press release in English here and find the report in English here.

For background, read the CLEW articles Call for open debate on CCU and CCS to save industry emissions and Norway bets on gas and CCS to complement Europe’s energy transition.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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