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Rapid German Coal Phase-Out Aids Climate Talks


November 18, 2023 - The faster Germany manages its coal phase-out, the easier it will be for German climate negotiators to persuade partner countries to carry out their own energy transition, German special envoy for international climate action Jennifer Morgan said at a climate event in Berlin today.

Morgan called on Germany's energy sector to advance rapidly in its decarbonisation plans, with coal ideally to be phased out by 2030. The official deadline for the coal phase-out is 2038, but the current government is aiming for an "ideal" phase-out by 2030.

Germany is active in several "Just Energy Transition Partnerships" (JETPs), such as with South Africa and Indonesia, which support countries gradually to replace coal-fired capacities with renewable energies. Morgan said that in these partnerships, Germany is only as credible as it can prove that its own coal phase-out is a success. The date of 2030 is therefore "very important", as it has a direct impact on Germany's influence, she said.

Under the JETP with South Africa, for instance, delegations from South Africa have visited the east German coal mining region of Lausitz to witness the beginning of the transformation towards renewable energies. But Lausitz-based energy firm Leag chief executive Thorsten Kramer told delegates that his firm, which runs 8GW of lignite-fired capacity, is unlikely to manage a full phase-out by 2030, and is still sticking to the "official" 2038 deadline.

The UN Cop 28 climate conference, which starts at the end of this month, offers the chance of sending out a "clear signal to the work to expand renewable energies", Morgan said.

The issue of "just transitions" will be a "big issue" at Cop 28, Morgan said.

"Real partnerships form part of successful climate policy," German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said at a different event in Berlin today.