German coal and gas ambition must be maintained across Europe

Sustainable energy

Germany The German coalition agreement is a defining moment for the European Union’s climate policies and goals, but ambition must be maintained.

The government agreement, presented by the SPD, Greens, and FDP party leaders, includes an accelerated coal phaseout by 2030 (eight years earlier than previously planned), the end of gas power generation by 2040, and a plan to replace all gas boilers with clean heating technology by 2035. (the first Member State to make this commitment).

To meet the EU’s environmental, energy, and climate targets, as well as the Paris Agreement goals, an accelerated coal phaseout by 2030 is unavoidable. The collapse of coal profits has rendered coal unprofitable, implying that subsidizing German coal would be an unconscionable waste of public funds. Germany’s 2030 coal phaseout, as the EU’s largest coal consumer, puts pressure on other Member States that are lagging behind in their coal exit plans, namely Bulgaria, Czechia, and Poland.

Germany establishes a precedent in the EU by going beyond the ban on gas boilers in new buildings and requiring the replacement of existing ones by 2035. It is past time to push for the decarbonization of the heating sector, which accounts for 12% of total CO2 emissions in the EU, equivalent to the emissions of all cars in the EU, and this move provides clear policy indications.

However, the agreement allows for fossil gas to remain in the German energy mix until 2040, putting climate targets at risk and leaving citizens vulnerable to price volatility. The Paris Agreement Compatible energy scenario demonstrates that by reducing demand for electricity generation, particularly in buildings, and increasing renewable energy supply, a fossil-gas phase-out by 2035 can be achieved. ​