After being postponed three times, Germany’s government has finally appointed a highly anticipated task-force on phasing out coal.
The coal commission – with the official title “Special Commission on Growth, Structural Economic Change and Employment” – will bring policymakers, industry representatives, labour unions, environmental NGOs and frontline communities to the table to decide on a roadmap and a clear end date for coal.
Launched by Merkel’s cabinet on June 6, 2018, the 31-member commission will have four co-chairs and 31 members in total. Preliminary results are expected in October, however, the commission has already come under fire for prioritising jobs over climate protection in its mandate.
The commission includes a number of proponents of a rapid coal phase out and – importantly, as a last minute addition, representatives of coal-impacted communities, which came about as a response to strong criticism of industry bias.
In spite of this, we know that the coal commission will not necessarily bring about the kind of commitments needed to uphold Germany’s climate goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.
While the commission gets underway in the coming months, new power plants are being built and plans for existing mines to be expanded are set to go ahead. As environmental groups have demanded from the outset, the commission should be accompanied by a moratorium on new coal projects.
The commission’s mandate doesn’t reflect the level of ambition required by the Paris Agreement and for Germany to meet its 2020 climate targets. It’s important to talk about an end date for coal, but the dirtiest coal mines must be shut down immediately, or by 2020 at the very latest. Read a civil society proposal for how this can be done here (in German).
There has been no effort to conceal the fact that climate change is not at the heart of the commission’s mandate. The highest priority has been placed on economic development and job creation, as the title makes clear! However, we believe that a stronger vision and more honesty about the future of coal industry workers is needed. That means getting serious about the need for a fair and just transition, and creating new and sustainable prospects for workers and coal-mining regions, rather than prolonging the inevitable.
That’s why we demand:
That Germany meets its climate goals, and that the federal government provides a clear outline of how these targets can be met, in line with efforts to limit global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius. For this to happen, 100 million tons of CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants will need to be reduced by 2020.
A legally binding plan for the closure of coal-fired power stations and open-cast mines
The immediate halt of all plans for new coal-fired power plants, open-cast mines and expansions.
Substantial support for the affected coal regions and workers, instead of letting coal companies get away with creating false hope and standing in the way of a fair and just transition to 100% renewables.
We know that the coal lobby and many political players want to further delay a coal phase out, which is why it is necessary for us to increase the pressure on decision-makers.
On 8 September 2018, there will be a Global Day of Action calling on local leaders and our political representatives to leave coal, oil and gas in the ground and to do everything in their power to make a just transition to citizen-led renewables.