• German ‘coal exit commission’ to finalise plan by the end of the year

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Germany has established a ‘coal exit commission’ tasked with planning the country’s phase out of coal-firing, as Clean Energy Wire reports. The Commission on Growth, Structural Change and Employment is to deliver its initial social and economic policy recommendations for coal regions by October this year and its final report by the end of the year. Its 45 members, a mix of politicians, industry representatives, academics and NGO representatives, have four primary aims:  a) agree an end-date for the phase-out of coal-fired power generation, and a roadmap to get there, b) develop transition plans for lignite-mining regions and identify ways to align climate action and economic stability, c) identify measures to reduce energy sector carbon emissions by 61-62% from 1990 levels (so that Germany meets its 2030 carbon targets), and d) make recommendations such that Germany gets as close to possible to its 2020 climate targets. These aims are revealing – they suggest that Germany would not consider firing coal equipped with carbon capture and storage facilities (although the Clean Energy Wire report may be eliding over that possibility), which would be a strategic direction at odds with much of the rest of the developed world, but they also show a concern with balancing climate action against the economic picture, something that cannot be said to have been fully solved by any economy in the world. However, it is clear that Germany is serious about attempting to find this balance, with the efforts of four federal ministries (economy and energy, environment, labour, and interior) fully involved in the plan and a further four (transport, finances, agriculture, and education and research) also being somewhat involved. Renewable energies are likely to be seen as the replacement employment generators for coal, but improved transport, the provision of retraining, and the relocation of research facilities into the area are also expected to contribute to or complement this. Similar such initiatives have generally not been successful in other developed countries, but with renewable technologies already the source of many German jobs, there may be a chance of a smooth-ish transition, though much will depend on the content of the plan itself.