BERLIN – Germany will spend tens of billions of dollars to complete the use of coal power within two decades if a plan agreed to by Saturday's representatives of the power industry, environmental movement, miners and local interest groups becomes official policy.
The deal, which was hit by more than 20 hours of intense, often offensive negotiations among a 28-member commission appointed by Chancellor Angela Merkel last year, would be one of the most significant energy transformations that a nation still has have tried in the face of climate change.
30 countries have already made proposals to reduce their carbon emissions by eliminating coal, the dirtiest and cheapest fossil fuel, including the UK, Canada and Sweden. But none of these plans is on the scale set in Germany, an industrial giant currently dependent on coal for almost one third of its energy needs.
It would come at a heavy price for taxpayers who would give them $ 40 billion. Euro earmarked for investment in regions most affected by job losses over the next two decades along with other costs that include compensation in amounts not yet determined that power companies take time to take coal works offline.
Solid compensation was an important demand for governors in coal-fired eastern states, where the populist Alternative for Germany party is expected to perform heavily in regional elections next year, partly on a platform of hostility to measures to combat climate change.
Still, a number of Germans have said they want their country to stop coal and maintain their commitments to the Paris climate Chord – to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 percent to 95 percent by 2050.
And the negotiation process, which brought together various interest groups along with orders to find agreement, was designed to minimize the potential for setbacks against efforts to combat emissions such as the yellow vests in France or the repetition of the bitter disputes over fate. A shovel in West Germany threatened by a coal mine last year.
"This is a historic effort," Ronald Pofalla, Commissioner, told reporters in Berlin and stressed that each of the interest groups had accepted concessions in order to achieve a result. "I hope the conflicts of recent years are no longer necessary because the dialogue in society has helped to reach an agreement."
Coal remains the largest energy source to generate electricity worldwide, though renewable sources such as solar and wind power are becoming more affordable. But coal is established – and cheap – making it the source of energy for fast-growing countries or those whose industrial spine was built by burning.
"The whole world looks at how Germany – a nation based on industry and technology, the fourth largest economy on our planet – takes the historic decision to phase out coal," says Johan Rockström, director of Potsdam's Institute for Climate Impact Research.
"This can help end the clue age, age for many governments say: Why should we act if others do not? Germany acts even if the Commission decision is not flawless."
German environmentalists had hoped A plan that would stop coal use by 2030, but said a less ambitious goal could be an acceptable compromise for a consensus that would allow the goal to be achieved.
"It is better to have poor climate protection than no climate protection," said Kai Niebert, chairman of the German environmental organization DNR and professor of sustainability at Zurich University, who was a member of the Commission.
"This plan will make it possible to achieve the climate change goals set by the German government, but it will and it is important to obtain affordable and secure energy supplies if the German Government implements our recommendations," said Barbara Praetorius , an environmental professor who served as one of the Commission's four leaders.
"A large majority of the population is behind this exit from coal," she said. "But it must be reliable, affordable and acceptable to the regions."
Here is a summary of the key points of the agreement.
A stable schedule with an ambitious start
• The plan requires approx. a quarter of Germany's coal works – 12.5 gigawatt & # 39; worth – to close by 2022. The Commission dismissed the naming of specific plants that left the decision to power companies.
• Reviews of these measures and other planned reductions are planned every three years.
• The final deadline for cessation of coal use is 2038, but could be moved until 2035. A survey in 2032 will determine.
Cash for Coal, Consumers and Factories
• The Commission refused to set a final price tag on the exit, but it foresees investing at least 40 billion euros or $ 45.6 billion in coal-dependent areas over the next two decades. focus on job creation through innovation.
• The German government also promised to crea te or move 5,000 government jobs in the affected regions, in North Rhine-Westphalia in the western country and in Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony in the east.
• The Commission recommended setting aside at least EUR 2 billion. a year to limit the increases in German domestic electricity bills, which are already the most expensive in Europe. The 2022 review sets the exact amount.
• Germany already has mechanisms to compensate for energy-intensive industries for the loss of cheap electricity; the plan will develop these further.
A cautious nod to a symbolic battle
As part of the agreement, the Commission recommended that keeping the Hambach forest intact would be "desirable".
The forest in western Germany, which immediately stretches over nearly 10,000 hectares, but over the last decade, has provided more than 250 hectares of space for a brown coal mining birth of one of Germany's most beautiful coal-fired plants.
For the past six years, protesters have built wooden houses to defend the remaining trees, and environmental groups have filed lawsuits aimed at preventing the RWE power firm from clearing the trees. Violent protests over the fate of the forest last summer made it a symbol of environmental activists around the world.