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Germany Committing to Coal-Free Energy

Ben Dolbear reveals how the eighth largest coal producing country is taking coal-free steps to becoming a more sustainable nation.

Photo by Alain Wong

Germany is currently the eighth largest producer of coal on the globe, contributing approximately 185.8 million tonnes of the fossil fuel to the climate crisis annually.

But according to a government commission released earlier this year, the nation will commit to ambitious targets which will see them entirely cease all coal production. This comes despite the fact that 40% of the country's electricity is currently sourced from coal.

Climate Before Convenience

Lignite coal is cheap, domestically mined, and responsible for approximately one fifth of the country's greenhouse gas emissions. It is for this reason that Germany has been criticised in some quarters for prioritising its economy over tackling climate change - until now.

Speaking after a 21-hour negotiation, Ronald Pofalla, chairman of the 28-member government commission, boldly stated during a news conference, "There won’t be any more coal-burning plants in Germany by 2038'.

Around 20,000 people currently work in the German coal industry, and a fund of around €41 billion of funding has been set aside to help mitigate any negative consequences to regions which economically benefit from coal production. 340,000 Germans currently work in its renewable energy industry.

The statement follows the 2012 decision by the German government to shut down over half of the country's nuclear plants in pursuit of more sustainable alternatives.

Concern Across Continents

Despite the promising political shift in Europe towards addressing the climate crisis, coal looks set to remain the world's leading source of electricity indefinitely, particularly due to the fact that China alone produces almost as much coal as the rest of the globe combined.

In the United States, President Trump has rewritten Obama-era emission rules for power plants, meaning that the coal industry is set to see a revival due to the slashing of goals for carbon reduction.

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