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Germany must exit coal by 2030 to meet 1.5C goal – study


24 Oct 2018 08:54

24 Oct 2018 08:54

(Montel) Germany needs to exit coal-fired power generation by 2030 as part of a wider drive to limit global warming to 1.5C, a study published by Climate Analytics on Wednesday showed.

To comply with the UN aspirations of limiting global warming to 1.5C, Germany must reduce emissions from coal-fired generation by 42% below 2017 levels by 2020, or 60% below those in 1990 and to zero by 2030, said the study. 

Published to coincide with another meeting of Germany’s government-appointed commission tasked with drafting a coal exit schedule, the study proposed to retire around 16 GW of coal-fired generation capacity by 2020 in addition to already scheduled closures totalling 4.2 GW.

Installed coal plant capacity in Germany – the EU’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter – stood at 46 GW by the end of 2017, accounting for 37% of power generated in the country, showed industry figures.

Last year, Berlin all but abandoned its 2020 goal to reduce emissions by 40% over 1990 levels, choosing to concentrate on a more binding 2030 target of a 55% cut.

Two paths
Units could either exit the market based on the level of emissions or profitability, with the first path seeing more early lignite plant closures and the latter a more balanced shutdown schedule between lignite and hard coal units, the study said.

“The ultimate decision on the sequencing of plant decommissioning will need to be made considering multiple factors, such as the implications for the coal-dependent regions, implications for the operation of mines, or the overall cost of decommissioning.”

As part of an orderly exit scenario, energy security and reliability of electricity supply were “not expected to be a major concern and will be manageable”.

“A structured coal phase-out plan for 2030… would signal to the rest of the EU countries and the international community that Germany remains serious about fighting climate change and implementing the Paris Agreement,” said study author Paola Yanguas Parra.

A recent report by climate activists Greenpeace also advocated a 2030 coal exit, while leaders of the federal states most dependent on coal are holding out for a later date or a hefty EUR 60bn in compensation.

A newspaper report this morning suggested the country’s coal commission could delay a decision due this December on the scope of the coal exit amid divergent opinions.

The Climate Analytics report can be found here.

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