Germany adopted a timetable on Thursday and has provided compensation for the shutdown of its coal-fired power plants, an important step towards abandoning this highly polluting energy between 2035 and 2038.
After months of negotiations, under increasing pressure from climate defenders, “the gradual exit from coal is starting now,” welcomed Environment Minister Svenja Schulze.
The government and the four regional states that host the mining basins – North Rhine-Westphalia, Brandenburg, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt – have agreed on a timetable and a compensation framework.
Berlin has promised 4.35 billion euros in compensation to the operators of coal-fired power plants, foremost of which is the German giant RWE, which is due to react in the early afternoon.
In detail, “2.6 billion euros” will go to the complexes of the Rhine basin in the West “and 1.75 billion” to the power plants in the East, an amount distributed “over fifteen years according to closures, “said Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.
The invoice could not be final, since Mr. Scholz has for the moment only mentioned the closings planned “in the 2020s”, not to mention the ultimate shutdowns of the 2030s.
‘Too late !’
As announced a year ago, Germany aims to abandon coal by 2038 at the latest but could “advance by three years” this deadline to target 2035, depending on the progress reports carried out in 2026 and 2029, according to l ‘agreement.
“The exit of coal is not a question of technique but of political will. It must happen now, 2035 is much too late!”, Lamented on Twitter the organization Ende Gelände, at the origin of several occupations of mines .
The agreement details for the first time a timetable for the closure of lignite, particularly polluting brown coal, which will begin on December 31, 2020 with one of the complexes operated by RWE near the Garzweiler mine, in western Germany.
It also provides for the end of the operating authorizations for the millennial forest of Hambach, in western Germany, threatened by the extension of a lignite mine and which has become, over the years, the national symbol of fight against anthrax.
“Instead of the 3 gigawatts planned” last year, “only 2.8 gigawatts of lignite will be decommissioned by 2022”, and the majority of closings “are postponed beyond 2030”, criticizes however Olaf Bandt , president of the ecological association BUND.
Climate activists, who are pressing the government to step up its efforts, also deplore the commissioning of a new coal-fired power station in the Rhine basin, Datteln 4, confirmed on Thursday.
In the mining regions affected by the closure of power stations and coal mines, the State plans to establish a “compensation fund” for “employees” in the sector, which could be paid “until 2043”.
A total of 40 billion euros in financial aid will also be granted to the four Länder signatories to the agreement until 2038, in accordance with a bill adopted in May 2019.
The abandonment by Germany of coal, very polluting but cheap energy at the origin of its industrial development, is complicated by the decision taken in 2011 to leave nuclear power by 2022.
Despite the rise of renewable energy, intermittent and difficult to store and transport, the leading European economy still draws more than a third of its electricity from coal and lignite.
In a plan adopted in December, Germany has set itself the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to their 1990 level, when it is already assured miss its climate targets for 2020.