Reducing CO2 would reduce the abundance of air pollutants as well, because a major part of these are co-emitted by the same sources, like coal-fired power plants. Reduced air pollution leads to lower health hazards and lower damage to ecosystems and agriculture. From a different angle, the ‘co-benefits’ of reducing air pollution by reducing CO2 emissions can be an important element of climate policy, making these policies effectively cheaper, by removing the need for policies and technologies to filter out air pollutants. Other co-benefits are also subject to active research, like reduced dependence on fossil-fuel imports as a result of strategies to move away from fossil-fuel use in a transition to higher reliance on renewable energy technology.


Germany needs to phase coal out of its electricity sector by 2030 to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement. This is earlier than the dates discussed so far by the Coal Commission, a body established to come up with a coal exit plan by the end of 2018.If Germany follows the Paris Agreement compatible pathway we propose here, it can also make significant steps towards meeting its 2020 emission reduction targets – something seen as impossible at the moment.Under a planned and structured coal phase out, energy security and reliability of electricity supply is not expected to be a major concern and will be manageable. As well as reduced health impacts, a coal exit from electricity generation by 2030 in Germany will bring added benefits in job creation, helping to smooth the transition to a zero-carbon energy system.