26 January, 2019

German coal commission phase out plan falls short of Paris Agreement targets

Germany’s coal commission proposal, announced today in Berlin, that Germany should continue to burn coal for electricity until 2038, is incompatible with Paris Agreement goals.

The commission recommends to shut down 12.5 GW of Germany’s total 45 GW coal power capacity by 2022, and another 15.5 GW until 2030. This excludes the so-called ‘security reserve,’ which creates a potential loophole. It set the phase-out date for 2038 with an option for an early phase-out in 2035.

Phasing out coal is an essential step in achieving the emissions reductions needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C, as set out in the Paris Agreement. The commission’s proposed timeline is incompatible with Paris Agreement goals, which mean that all OECD countries, including Germany, phase out coal power generation by 2030.

If Germany were to adopt the coal commission’s proposal, it would be the only EU country with a coal exit date after 2030, setting a worrying precedent for climate action in Europe and around the world.

Delaying coal exit until 2038 would put Germany behind other leading European economies including France and the United Kingdom, both members of the Powering Past Coal Alliance. The alliance includes 30 governments (of those 11 are EU member states), 22 provinces and cities and 28 transnationals, who pledged to phase out coal by 2030.

The coal commission proposal to the German government comes at a critical time for the European Union and global climate protection. Current emission reduction pledges are vastly insufficient to achieve the Paris Agreement goals and would lead to a warming of 3°C the end of the century and unless substantially strengthened, would lock out limiting warming to 1.5°C.

It is of outmost importance, that governments come forward with new and updated climate targets for 2030 (so-called National Determined Countributions) by 2020 and the world is looking at the European Union for its leadership.

Just yesterday, 5 nordic countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland – committed to strengthen their emission reduction targets to be in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit.

By pushing back the date of exiting coal, the coal commission proposal would, if ultimately adopted by the German government, also miss the opportunity to substantially close the 2020 emissions gap towards achieving Germany’s national target (100 MtCO2e, according to recent government estimates.

Germany has just seen a record-breaking summer that has rattled the country and caused massive losses in the agriculture and forestry sector. The IPCC special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C that has renewed the stark warnings of the scientific community of the impacts of exceed 1.5°C. Public support for stringent climate protection has never been higher.


Carl Schleusser (Berlin): +49 177 5141559 carl.schleussner@climateanalytics.org
Paola Yanguas Parra (Berlin) +49 157 828 75700 paola.parra@climateanalytics.org
Bill Hare, CEO – in Perth, Australia: +61 468 372 179 bill.hare@climateanalytics.org
Ela Smith, media (Berlin): +49 152 56124061 ela.smith@climateanalytics.org

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