Press release: 17 January 2020

Immoral, short-sighted and a climate failure: lawyers respond to Germany’s coal phase-out plan

Details of Germany’s draft coal phase-out plan have emerged today. ClientEarth lawyers are alarmed by the contents and have strongly condemned it.

Head of ClientEarth Germany Prof. Dr. Hermann Ott said: “Germany has not heeded warnings. The coal phase-out plan on the table comes from a different universe to the one where Australia is burning and leaders thrash out the climate question at Davos.

“In 2038, Germany could still be burning nearly 6GW’s worth of coal – to avoid the worst effects of climate change, and to comply with the Paris Agreement, a 2030 deadline is the only acceptable option.

“The government has also failed to save people’s homes around the colossal Garzweiler mine, insisting on an expansion – the villagers will be fighting against that in the courts.

“And, if that weren’t enough, billions of Euros in compensation has been promised to the companies who will happily keep subjecting the country and the planet to climate-threatening coal for the next 18 years.

“This is not only immoral – the payoffs are not a done deal and European Commission will have to clear them first, applying stringent criteria.

“This proposal is a failure, a terribly short-sighted move from a legal perspective, and an insult to those living through the horrific effects of climate change. This cannot be the law we see put in place in the coming months.”

ClientEarth has published a legal report and commentary about the legality of ‘golden handshakes’ to energy companies for taking coal plants offline.

The legal charity is also supporting villagers around the Garzweiler mine to save their homes from destruction.


About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a charity that uses the power of the law to protect people and the planet. We are international lawyers finding practical solutions for the world’s biggest environmental challenges. We are fighting climate change, protecting oceans and wildlife, making forest governance stronger, greening energy, making business more responsible and pushing for government transparency. We believe the law is a tool for positive change. From our offices in London, Brussels, Warsaw, Berlin and Beijing, we work on laws throughout their lifetime, from the earliest stages to implementation. And when those laws are broken, we go to court to enforce them.