Germany is ready to join an international alliance committed to phasing out coal use, environment minister Svenja Schulze has told national newspaper Taz.
A specially appointed commission advised in January the country can stop burning coal by 2038. On Thursday, chancellor Angela Merkel formed a “climate cabinet” from different ministries to steer a framework climate law through parliament.
These domestic steps put Germany, one of the heaviest coal users in Europe, in a position to share its commitment with the world, according to Schulze.
“We can now finally join the international alliance of coal-exit countries and the Powering Past Coal Alliance,” she said, in an interview with Taz, Die Tageszeitung’s weekend edition, shared before publication with Climate Home News. “I will get this on it its way.”
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Schulze, a member of the Social Democratic Party, is among the greener voices in Germany’s governing coalition. Her stance has yet to be endorsed by ministerial colleagues.
Germany gets some 35% of its electricity from coal and has a significant mining sector. Moves to quit the polluting fuel have met fierce resistance from industry, workers and affected communities.
By bringing together representatives of a wide range of interest groups, the coal commission sought to find a durable compromise between climate, economic and social goals. Its recommendations still need to be translated into law.
Getting Germany on board would be a big win for the Powering Past Coal Alliance, a club convened by the UK and Canada to support national shifts to cleaner energy. The alliance counts 30 countries, 22 subnational governments and 28 businesses as members.
The UK has slashed its reliance on coal from around 40% of electricity generation to less than 5% in a decade, closing several older power stations. That enabled the birthplace of the industrial revolution to cut emissions faster than other developed economies.
Canada gets 9% of power from coal and has committed to close the last plant by 2030.
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