German Government Deal: 2030 Coal Phaseout, But Plenty Of Questions Remain

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Courtesy of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

Presented by the party leaders of SPD, Greens and FDP, the government agreement includes an accelerated coal phaseout “ideally” by 2030 (eight years earlier than previously planned). Despite leaks pointing at outlawing gas boilers by 2035 and the end of power generation from gas by 2040, no such commitments appear to have been announced in the end.

An accelerated 2030 coal phaseout is inevitable in order to meet the EU’s environmental, energy and climate targets, as well as the goals of the Paris Agreement. Ambition must be maintained to ensure that “ideally” does not allow for delays.

The collapse of coal profits has made coal uneconomic and means that subsidising German coal would be an intolerable waste of public money.

The 2030 coal phaseout of Germany, a top EU coal consumer, applies pressure on other Member States lagging behind in their coal exit plans, namely Bulgaria, Czechia and Poland.

On heating, the announcement of “all newly installed heating systems must be operated with 65% renewable energy by 2025” is highly disappointing. All new dwellings should only rely on renewable heating and hybrid solutions should be left only for niche renovation markets such as protected buildings. Time is running out to decarbonise a heating sector which is responsible for 12% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, equivalent to the emissions of all the cars in the EU.

Furthermore, the deal seems to leave the door open for fossil gas to remain in the German energy mix with provisions on “H2-ready gas power plants” and inclusion of methane-based H2 in the short term, putting climate targets at risk and leaving citizens exposed to the volatility of its prices.

Our Paris Agreement Compatible energy scenario proves that by reducing demand for electricity generation, especially in buildings, and increasing renewable energy supply, we can achieve a fossil gas phaseout by 2035.

Riccardo Nigro, EEB Campaign Coordinator for Coal Combustion and Mines, said:

“This new deal means checkmate for coal in Germany and sets a tone for the inevitable 2030 coal endgame across Europe. Now the new German government should not waste further public money to compensate lignite operators to exit an unprofitable and harmful business, but instead use that money for sustainable, renewable energy and to ensure a just transition.”

Davide Sabbadin, EEB Campaign Coordinator on heating, said:

“While the high 2030’s renewable target will certainly drive renewable heating in buildings, this looks like a missed chance for Germany to give clear indications to the heating market. Removing fossil gas from both our new and existing homes is essential for achieving climate goals and protecting citizens from soaring energy bills”.

Patrick ten Brink, EEB Deputy Secretary-General, added:

“We hope that the new German coalition adds its weight to avoid nuclear and gas being part of the EU green taxonomy. This German Government must play a pivotal role in the climate negotiations and push for ambitious ‘Fit For 55’ and Zero Pollution Action Plan policy files, while helping to ensure the European Green Deal reaches its transformative potential”.

The deal will be put to the three parties for their consideration, which if approved would see SPD’s Olaf Scholz elected as chancellor in the week beginning 6 December.

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