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German cabinet backs move to end coal power by 2038

By Ramla Soni

Merkel government agrees to compensate workers, companies and regional governments as it plans to switch off plants by 2038

The German cabinet is backing plans to stop using coal to generate energy by 2038 under a bid by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition to protect the climate and restore its green credentials.

Berlin is encouraging a shift towards renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, and also plans to exit nuclear power by 2022.

Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said: “This is not just an exit from coal, it’s an entry into renewable energy.” She added that the move will cut a quarter of all CO2 emissions in Germany.

The government wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 55 per cent of 1990 levels by 2030.

To ensure that Germany hits the 2030 target, the coal exit will be accompanied by heavy investments in renewable energy.

Last week economy minister Peter Altmaier said Germany’s transition to a fossil-fuel free energy mix will be like undergoing “open-heart surgery” as the car, steel and renewable industries will have to work hard to stay competitive.

As part of the coal-free plan, the German government has agreed to compensate workers, companies and regional governments as it switches off plants by 2038.

The government has struck a deal worth more than €40bn (£33.9bn, $44bn) with coal-mining regions.

Brown coal generates about 19 per cent of Germany’s electricity, but is considered the most polluting type of coal, because its low energy density means more must be burned.

FURTHER READING: Germany's RWE coal phase-out to cut 6,000 jobs in 10 years

FURTHER READING: German power grid operators urge rise in renewable generation capacity

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