Germany has a serious coal credibility problem

coal-4-out-of-5-largest-EU-emittersProposals by the German government to reduce emissions from coal power plants are under threat despite new analysis showing that German lignite coal plants make up 4 out of 5 largest emitters in Europe.

The proposals to limit emissions from coal, which were leaked last month, are coming under intense pressure from local politicians and utility companies who are playing on exaggerated concerns over job losses.

In fact, a recent study by the International Trade Union Confederation shows that climate change is already putting thousands of jobs at risk and that a just transition away from fossil fuels will create new quality jobs.

Grassroots climate groups and NGOs alike are urging ministers to protect the plans and are mobilising people en masse to take part in actions in April and August to demand a complete phase out of coal  in Germany. On 25th April, a giant Human Chain will stretch across the length of the Garzweiler II open-pit mine — one of the largest sources of carbon emissions in Europe, let alone Germany.

A recent opinion poll  showed that most Germans are against new coal mining areas and that many would like all surface mines and lignite power plants to be shut down immediately.  What’s also clear is that that 89% of Europe’s coal needs to be kept underground in order to keep below 2°C of global warming and avoid the devastating impacts of climate change.

If agreed, the German government’s leaked proposals could be a “huge step forward” towards the country’s aim to slash emissions by 40 per cent by 2020.  Indeed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been a key advocate for ambitious climate action at an international level and so it is all the more important that she backs strong domestic measures to cut emissions.

german_co2-carbon-dioxide-energy-pHowever, whilst Germany has been leading the way in its Energiewende (renewable energy transition away from fossil fuels), it is still hugely reliant on dirty coal,  which is responsible for over a third of Germany’s CO2 emissions.  Analysis out yesterday revealed for the first time that, 4 out of 5 of the largest EU emitters are German lignite coal power stations.

Without a clear commitment to a coal phase out, Germany would not only be signalling the end of its commitment to a 40% reduction in CO2 by 2020. It would also be sending a dangerous signal and put Germany’s international credibility at risk in an absolutely critical year for climate action with the G7 meeting, presided over by Germany, in June and the UN negotiations in December.

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