In an effort to slow climate change, "a German government-appointed panel has recommended that Germany stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2038 at the latest*,"* according to Time.
Early Saturday, the Coal Commission reached a deal. The head of the commission, Ronald Pofalla, said, “We made it. This is a historic effort.”
Currently, Germany burns coal to generate more than a third of its electricity, which prompts the creation of a large amount of greenhouse gases.
The panel, which has representatives from mining regions, utility companies, scientists and environmentalist say that a review in 2032 could bring the coal deadline up to 2035.
Billions of dollars in federal funding will help affected regions deal with the economic impact of the plan and will protect industries and consumers from higher electricity prices. A modernization of the country’s power grid will be needed as well.
“The whole world is watching how Germany — a nation based on industry and engineering, the fourth largest economy on our planet — is taking the historic decision of phasing out coal,” said Johan Rockstroem, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research. “This could cascade globally, locking in the fastest energy transition in history.”
The plan will phase Germany’s coal plants out gradually to reduce the greenhouse gas output.
The commission suggests that the government create up to 5,000 new jobs in affected areas when coal mining is being phased out. The affected regions should also get federal subsidies over the next twenty years.
“New jobs will be created through structural measures in the coal mining regions,” Pofalla said. “We will keep up secure and affordable energy supply and the agreement will lead to sustainable climate protection in Germany.”
Germany is committed to replacing fossil fuels with clean energy sources, such as solar and wind power. The country has made major progress, but removing coal completely will be a huge challenge.
Greenpeace was excited that “Germany finally has a timetable how the country can become coal-free” but criticized that the measures were neither ambitious enough not quick enough.
“The speed is wrong,” said Martin Kaiser, the head of Greenpeace. “Exiting coal by the year 2038 only is inacceptable.”
Public broadcaster ZDF released an opinion poll that found that 73 percent of Germans think that a quick exit from coal usage is very important.