broad stretch of coal mine germany

Experts call for German coal phase out law to avoid ‘legal shambles’

Expert environmental lawyers have told Germany’s ‘coal commission’ that the only clear route to ending coal-fired power in Germany is to put a dedicated law in place.

ClientEarth Germany, along with independent lawyer Dr. Cornelia Ziehm, published a set of legal options for a German coal phase out – concluding that there is only one effective and logical legal route to ending coal-fired power in Germany: a comprehensive new law that requires plants to shut down either depending on their age or their carbon dioxide emissions.

The lawyers’ recommendations have been sent to the Commission for Growth, Structural Change and Employment (most often known as the ‘coal commission’).

Dr Ziehm said: “The coal phase out must be formalised in a law passed by the parliament. Contractual agreements between governments and operators do not give concrete assurance that the phase out will be successful.”

Director of ClientEarth Germany Prof Dr Hermann Ott said: “The German coal phase out is of major importance for global climate protection, but also for Germany’s future and its role in the world.

“We recommend not only the swift and effective implementation of a coal phase out, but also that this is done in a legally watertight, efficient way. For such an important topic, we cannot risk a legal shambles.”

Germany is Europe’s leading producer of power from coal, with a total coal capacity that far exceeds that of any other EU country.

The German coal commission is due to issue its proposed plan to phase out coal in February – a date that has already been pushed back. Recent reports have hinted at the possibility of bilateral agreements between the government and coal operators.

The EU this week agreed on new energy policy to take the bloc beyond coal. Meanwhile, a band of global investors with $11.5tn in assets has just called on power companies to end coal use by 2030.

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Bert Kaufmann

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