Press release: 15 October 2021

New German coal end date means demolition must stop - ClientEarth

An accelerated coal phase-out has been decided on in the initial agreement between the parties that will make up Germany’s new coalition government. While the current law plans for a full coal exit by 2038 or potentially 2035, today’s announcement suggests that a phase-out would instead “ideally” be complete by 2030, for reasons of climate protection.

Head of ClientEarth’s Germany office, Prof. Dr. Hermann Ott, said: “The former German government agreed a coal phase-out schedule which was illusionary from the outset. There was never any doubt that that the date would be moved forward and this announcement is no revelation – it’s just the new government starting to accept reality.

“What is now clear is that a rewrite of the coal phase-out law is needed, and it must start as soon as this year. The infamous paragraph 48, which says that the Garzweiler mine is vital for national energy security, must be erased. The phase-out pathway for lignite plants must change, urgently, and that will change the fate of the communities in Germany that are currently battling to save their homes from the excavators. Planned demolition in Lützerath must be suspended with immediate effect.

“The European Commission is deciding whether a planned €4 billion in payoffs to lignite operators is legal – and that will likely mean further edits.

“A 2030 phase-out isn’t an “ideal” scenario – it’s the latest we can possible see the country, and the EU at large, exit coal. It’s high time we saw legislation that reflected that reality.”

Affected regions have been promised “strong support” by the new government, for the transition.

Ott said: “Strong support for coal regions means keeping communities together and not forging ahead with totally unnecessary demolition and expropriation. With this agreement, we hope that we would be correct in assuming that the era of government-endorsed coal demolitions has come to an end.”


Notes to editors:
  • ClientEarth has provided consistent evidence to the European Commission on the planned payouts to German lignite operators from the public purse, explaining that these would be contrary to EU State aid law.
About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.