Merkel stands firm on coal phase-out timeline

German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected demands over the weekend to bring forward an exit date for ending coal generation in Germany, currently set at 2038.

Last week Merkel’s cabinet approved draft legislation for more ambitious CO2 reduction targets, including being carbon neutral by 2045, after a landmark court ruling last month forced the government to act.

Under the new plans, which come as the environmentalist Greens top most polls before a September federal election, Germany will cut its carbon emissions by 65% by 2030 from 1990 levels, up from a previous target of a 55% reduction.

Europe’s biggest economy will also aim for nearly net zero emissions five years earlier than planned.

“Those affected need some reliability on the path to climate neutrality,” Merkel said. “I don’t want to unravel this again after one year.”

Climate activists say that without an earlier coal phase-out, the more ambitious climate protection targets which Merkel’s government just agreed on cannot be achieved.

One important tool to implement the law will be a levy on carbon charged to suppliers of heating and transport fuels since Jan. 1.

By collecting an initial 25 euros per tonne CO2 equivalent, due to rise to 55 euros a tonne, it enforces emission cuts while raising money for the government to help consumers with rising heat, electricity and travel bills.

The draft law follows a court ruling last month that a 2019 law failed to ensure sufficient climate protection.