German minister: Berlin needs to halve coal capacity by 2030 to meet Paris goals

Germany is still reliant on coal but that will have to change sooner rather than later if the Paris Agreement targets are to be met. [Shutterstock]

Germany would have to shut 25 gigawatts (GW), half its current total coal-fired power station capacity, by 2030 to meet carbon-cutting targets it has committed to under the Paris Agreement, deputy economy minister Rainer Baake said on Tuesday (5 September).

Addressing an energy conference, Baake (Alliance 90/The Greens) said the measures would have to be worked out by the incoming government after general elections later this month.

“This can be done in line with the law and without compensation. This we know from getting out of nuclear energy,” said Baake, who serves as a state secretary in the Berlin ministry and was one of the initiators of Germany’s exodus from nuclear energy launched in 2001.

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He said a fair and detailed plan could be set on its way that would hold no surprises later, adding the heat and transport sectors also needed targets to reach the overall goals.

Germany will miss a 40% carbon cutting target by 2020, compared to 1990 levels, but is aiming for 50% by 2030. WWF Germany recently claimed that Berlin would have to start phasing out coal by 2019 in order to meet the Paris targets.

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While Baake has no governing powers, any incoming government will have to address the need to further cut climate-harming emissions that are most intense in the fossil fuels-fired electricity sector.

Germany’s continued reliance on coal is angering environmental groups and green activists, many of whom gathered in force at camps in the country’s main coal districts.

From mid-August until the end of the month, around 6,000 activists attempted to disrupt Germany’s coal infrastructure, calling for an immediate end to the production of lignite (brown coal).

They targeted in particular four coal-fired power plants west of Cologne, which are fuelled by three massive open-pit lignite mines. Together they are the largest source of CO2 emissions in Europe.

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