Gabriel says coal to remain relevant
By Paul Homewood
Germany’s economy minister says his country will not be phasing out brown coal before 2040, as the government looks to ways to ensure minimisation of job losses in coal regions.
Sigmar Gabriel told a conference in Berlin, "It will on no account be switched off in the next decade – in my opinion not even in the one after that."
This reinforces the message coming from the government in early summer. In June Berlin distanced itself from initial proposals to set out a timetable to exit coal-fired power production "well before 2050" as part of a national climate action plan.
Now it plans to set up a committee for climate protection and structural change that will deal with how to exit brown coal production while ensuring jobs for the affected regions.
The committee will be asked to come up with proposals by 2018.
The German government has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 95 per cent compared to 1990 by the middle of the century.
Domestic hard coal mining are expected to cease in 2018 and Germany’s coal miners and users expect the country’s last brown coal mines to close by around 2045.
This is an important matter that I have referred to before. Regardless of the costs of decarbonising electricity, coal mining is still an extremely important part of the German economy. It has, in my view, always been inconceivable that the German government would shut it all down on a whim.
Indeed, there is little sign of German coal production declining; output is still almost as high as it was in 2001.
And, of course, this leaves one very basic question – even if Germany reduces its consumption of coal in the next decade or so, if its output remains undiminished, it simply means that it will be consumed somewhere else.