Germany is among the biggest consumers of coal in the world. However, it will be shutting down all 84 of its coal-fired power plants over the course of the next 19 years in order to stay true to its international commitments made in the fight against climate change.
A government commission gave the statement on Saturday. The announcement marks the starting of a paradigm shift for Germany that has remained a leader on cutting CO2 emissions but slacked off during the recent years, thus missing its reduction targets. As of right now, coal-fired power plants make up 40% of Germany’s electricity.
Ronald Pofalla, chairman of the 28-member government commission, during a news conference in Berlin, after a marathon 21-hour negotiating sessions that were concluded at 6 am Saturday, said, ‘This is a historic accomplishment. It was anything but a sure thing. But we did it. There won’t be any more coal-burning plants in Germany by 2038.’ The plan features expenditures worth $45 billion for mitigating the pain in coal regions. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is expected to adopt the recommendations by the commission.
Claudia Kemfert, professor for energy economics at the DIY Berlin – the German Institute for Economic Research – said, ‘It’s a big moment for climate policy in Germany that could make the country a leader once again in fighting climate change. It’s also an important signal for the world that Germany is again getting serious about climate change: a very big industrial nation that depends so much on coal is switching it off.’
It should be noted that after the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Germany had decided to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022. As of now, twelve out of the nineteen nuclear plants have been shuttered. With the decision to cease working on coal-fired power plants, Germany will have to rely on renewable energy to take care of 65-80% of its power needs by 2040. Last year, renewable energy overtook coal as the leading source and provided 41% of the country’s electricity.
Martin Kaiser, executive director of Greenpeace Germany and a member of the commission, said, ‘It’s good that Germany now has a clear road map for the phase-out of coal and we’re on the path to becoming carbon-free.’
What do you think of the decision taken by Germany about its coal-fired power plants?