In an effort towards its international commitments to fight climate change, Germany has pledged to close down all 84 of its coal-fueled power plants over the next 19 years. Europe's largest country, once an international leader on cutting CO2 emissions, has slipped behind in recent years and failed poorly to meet its reduction targets.
The January announcement to rely primarily on renewable energy by 2038 marks a historic shift in the country’s energy policy and comes as a result of 7 months of debate. ““It was anything but a sure thing. But we did it,” said Ronald Pofalla, chairman of the government coal commission, at a news conference in Berlin. “There won’t be any more coal-burning plants in Germany by 2038.” The plan to transition to renewable energy includes $45 billion in spending to ensure a smooth transition in regions that rely on the coal industry.
Germany has made similar bold moves regarding energy policy in recent years. In the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011, the German government decided to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022. 60% of the nation’s nuclear plants have been closed so far. The plan to eliminate both coal and nuclear sources of power means that Germany will rely on renewable energy to provide 65% to 80% of energy expenditure by 2040. In 2018, renewables passed coal as the leading source of energy and account for 41% of Germany's electricity, while coal provided 40%.