Germany Aims to Phase Out Coal-Fired Power by 2038

A coal-fired power plant in Datteln, Germany.

A coal-fired power plant in Datteln, Germany. Arnold Paul/Wikimedia Commons

The German government has introduced a plan to phase out coal-fired power entirely by 2038 — a target that could cut the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by a quarter, Reuters reported. The agreement includes a $44 billion fund to compensate workers, companies, and regional governments impacted by the transition off of coal.

Germany currently generates one-third of its electricity from coal, and is also the world’s biggest producer of lignite, or brown coal, considered the dirtiest type of coal. Government leaders said the new policy would help spur the country’s shift toward renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Germany has previously committed to phasing out nuclear power by 2022.

“This is not just an exit from coal, it’s an entry into renewable energy,” environment minister Svenja Schulze told reporters.

The German government introduced a major climate package last year, which included carbon pricing and a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The green energy sector already employs some 250,000 people in Germany — more than the country’s coal industry, according to BBC News.

The $45 billion compensation package for coal workers and companies will be focused on the German states of Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Brandenburg — regions of the country with lignite mines and coal-fired power plants. The new funds will be used to help retrain coal workers, build new infrastructure, and compensate mines and utilities for lost production.