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Greens want to bring forward coal phase-out in East Germany to 2030

The Greens parliamentary group in the Bundestag is aiming for an early exit from coal by 2030 in the east of the country as well.

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Greens want to bring forward coal phase-out in East Germany to 2030

The Greens parliamentary group in the Bundestag is aiming for an early exit from coal by 2030 in the east of the country as well. A draft resolution for the parliamentary group's closed meeting next week states that this is a "necessary step to achieve the climate goals". The ARD "Hauptstadtstudio" and the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reported about it first. The parliamentary group meets in Weimar from Tuesday to Thursday.

An earlier phase-out of coal not only makes sense in terms of climate policy, but also provides planning and investment security for local people and regions in view of new developments, the paper says. The assumption that coal-fired power generation will be economical by 2038 has now become obsolete.

The Greens justify their move by saying that Germany is still not on the way to meeting the 1.5 degree target. "Coal, oil and fossil gas have no place in a climate-neutral country," the paper says. Lignite in particular is “extremely harmful to the climate,” warns the decision, which is intended to put the project high on the federal government’s agenda.

The coal commission had originally agreed 2038 as the exit year. In their coalition agreement, however, the traffic light parties SPD, Greens and FDP agreed to strive for an accelerated phase-out of coal-fired power generation in order to meet climate protection goals. “Ideally” this should be achieved by 2030.

For North Rhine-Westphalia, an agreement between the federal and state governments and the energy company RWE now provides for the end of coal-fired power generation by 2030. In the affected federal states of Brandenburg, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, an earlier exit is viewed critically. Whether the traffic light partners SPD and FDP would play along is an open question.

The Green Group calls for a similar agreement in the East. "We want security and prospects for the people in the East German coal regions," said parliamentary group leader Katharina Dröge of the "SZ". What is needed is a “forward-looking policy that shapes structural change”. Prime Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) had already spoken out in January for an earlier exit from coal in the East, but at the same time pointed out that this had to be “agreed by consensus”.

As an alternative to lignite-fired power plants, the paper by the Greens group talks about “hydrogen-ready gas-fired power plants”, i.e. power plants that can initially generate electricity through gas combustion, but later also from hydrogen. It is foreseeable that eastern Germany will become a region where green hydrogen is produced. “The experience and network infrastructure can be used where lignite is still burned today. This entry secures countless jobs in the power plant sector.”

Saxony-Anhalt's Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff considers the earlier coal phase-out in the East envisaged by the Greens to be unrealistic. As a result of the gradual phase-out of coal and nuclear power and the elimination of pipeline gas as a bridging technology in the energy transition, there is a power gap. It is "simply not explained how we want to achieve a self-sufficient energy supply," the CDU politician told the German Press Agency on Saturday at the sidelines of a media conference in Tutzing, Bavaria.

"It is completely illusory to believe that you can now build a scenario after a crucial building block has been dropped as a bridging technology, which, by the way, has always been a prerequisite for us to even make it to 2038," said Haseloff, referring to gas, which was originally used instead of Coal should be used more in power generation. If the alternative then consists of importing coal-fired power from Poland or nuclear power from France, "then I have to ask whether that can be an ethical and, let's say, value-based answer to the current problem," added the CDU politician added.

Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) also warned the federal government to be reliable when it comes to phasing out coal. It is important to stick to the original exit date of 2038, he made clear on Friday at a meeting with young employees of the energy company Leag and with trade unionists in the Boxberg power plant. Employees have the right to demand exactly that. He stands by her side.

Kretschmer recalled how the coal compromise came about. At that time there was an agreement with the participation of trade unions, employers, churches, social organizations, municipalities and environmental organizations. A compromise had been worked out with great seriousness. Ecology, economy and the social question should be brought together. "I also think that you can't push this approach aside."

According to Kretschmer, high energy prices and doubts about the security of supply must not lead to the “gold rush mood” in Saxony breaking down. "Energy is the Achilles' heel of every national economy." If you don't guarantee this, you can no longer keep companies in this country. One is still dependent on lignite. New jobs need to be created. But for this to happen, the site conditions would have to be such that one is competitive with other regions in the world.

"Kick-off" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, among others, or directly via RSS feed.

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