After Germany's renewables surge, can it keep its coal in the ground?

Germany's 'Energiewende' has made the country a global renewable energy powerhouse. So why have its carbon emissions gone up? Not because of nuclear closures, writes Melanie Mattauch, but because powerful fossil fuel companies have blocked effective climate action. Now the fight is on as public calls to keep the coal in the ground get too loud to ignore.

Emissions have failed to drop sufficiently and even rose in 2012 and 2013 due to an increase in coal electricity generation.

Critics were quick to blame the nuclear phase-out for the increase in coal. But in fact, the increased generation from renewables filled the nuclear energy gap.

The reason Germany's carbon emissions, and coal burn, have risen under the Energiewende, has nothing to do with the 'failure of renewables', nor with the closure of nuclear power stations, as critics claim. Nor is it a technical or supply issue.

It is, on the contrary, the result of unconstrained market forces, ineffective climate policy both globally and in the EU, and the abject failure of the EU-ETS - all thanks to influential vested interests blocking effective climate action.

Germany's struggle to make its energy transition a success has reached a new climax with the proposal of a climate levy to reduce emissions from the most polluting coal power plants.

The age of coal is inevitably coming to an end and it politicians need to invest in a just transition to an economy based on renewable energy and sustainable long-term jobs.

The Ecologist

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