Germany heads to COP24 without coal-exit plan

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Germany is likely to show up empty-handed to the COP24 summit in Poland in December as the country’s coal exit commission has decided to extend its work beyond the original end-of-2018 deadline.

Germany’s task force on planning the definite phase-out of coal-fired power production has scrapped plans to present a decision before the end of this year.

Several days after three eastern German federal states had demanded better and more detailed plans to support coal mining regions, the so-called coal commission has decided to “conclude its work on 1 February 2019”.

The task force set up a working group from its ranks to draw up further concrete proposals for coal regions and to hold talks on these with both the federal and state governments, the commission said in a press release, according to Euractiv and Clean Energy Wire.

State premier of Brandenburg Dietmar Woidke welcomed the decision to extend the work to 2019. “That’s good and right. The pressure from the eastern German states – which are most affected – was necessary and obviously successful,” he told news agency dpa.

The commission has already published a first set of policy recommendations on how to buffer the structural economic changes in the affected regions. However, eastern German state premiers had written a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, demanding more details and firm financial commitments.

Lignite mining regions like Lusatia could become “European model regions for climate protection and economic growth”, said Woidke.

In a bid to improve Germany’s poor greenhouse gas reduction record and to identify economic prospects for people employed in the waning coal industry, the current government coalition set up the commission tasked with planning the definite phase-out of coal-fired power production.

It was supposed to present its first recommendations on possible contributions by the energy sector to help Germany close the gap to reaching its 2020 climate targets ahead of the UN climate change conference COP24 in Poland in December.

Postponing the decision on a German coal exit path to next year means that Germany will now “go empty-handed” to the international conference, said Brigitte Knopf, Secretary General of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC).

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