image: Miller Argent

Despite huge public support for a coal phase-out, German media reported this week that Chancellor Merkel is trying to weaken proposed legislation to reduce emissions from the most polluting coal power plants, which economist and scientists warn is the bare minimum for Germany to meet its climate commitments.

Over the past few weeks, the government has struggled to come to a decision. The tug of war between those that want to keep making money digging up and burning the black stuff and those that want an end to coal is in full swing.

Much of the public debate about the proposed climate levy has focused on potential job losses. RWE who will be impacted the most by the legislation, has been accused of making appallingly exaggerated claims of jobs that will be lost if the legislation is passed.

In April, more than 6,000 people came to RWE’s Garzweiler open-pit lignite mine to create a massive human chain against coal (check out Emma’s blog from the human chain). At the same time some trade unions staged a counter-protest with coal workers from across the country, to the horror of many union members. Thousands urged their union to come out in support of a coal phase-out instead of leading workers to believe that there is a future for jobs in coal.

Even Vattenfall CEO Magnus Hall – the second company who will primarily be impacted by the legislation – does not see a future for jobs in coal. Last week, he told Spiegel Online that it was a ‘painful realisation’ but coal mining jobs in Germany would be lost ‘sooner or later’.

It is not the legislation that puts jobs at risk, it’s the outdated business model of the coal giants that is the problem. Last year, RWE slashed 5,000 jobs and already announced that it will make further cuts.

If even Vattenfall admits that there is no future for jobs in coal, it’s surely time for trade unions to come to terms with the Energiewende and start demanding investments in a just transition to a low-carbon economy that supports workers and creates sustainable long-term jobs.

Jobs in coal will inevitably be lost. But there is huge potential for far more new jobs in a renewable energy economy. This transition can benefit the well-being of local communities instead of destroying their villages, health, nature and the climate. Opinion polls show that the vast majority of Germans want a coal phase-out.

Will Merkel heed this call? Or will she cave in to pressure from big polluters?

Please sign and share our petition calling on Angela Merkel to defend and strengthen legislation to slash emissions from coal.

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