Germany has revealed plans to force the closure of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest and, by introducing measures that would oblige coal operators to slash their emissions by at least 22 million tonnes by 2020, equivalent to shutting about eight coal plants.
Senior government sources said on Thursday that Germany’s cabinet had approved the plans as part of a broader climate package last December, after concerns were raised it would fall short of goals to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 (from 1990 levels).
The government also plans to allow coal plants to produce 7 million tonnes of C02 per gigawatt of installed capacity, for which they will only need to acquire pollution permits under the European Union’s emissions trading scheme (ETS), the sources said.
Any C02 produced above that level would, however, be subject to a fine of, for example, €18 to €20 per tonne.
By introducing a fine, the government hopes utilities such as RWE and Vattenfall will be forced to reduce production at their oldest and dirtiest coal plants.
The government plans to pass a law by the end of the year regulating the exact size of the fine, with the aim of bringing it into force from 2017, the sources said.
The move from Germany mirrors that of from America, where US President Barack Obama, via the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), proposed that existing power plants reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent – compared to 2005 levels – by 2030.
And it’s what environmental groups and the Australian Greens have been calling for here in Australia – to no avail.
As we reported yesterday, ACF boss Geoff Cousins argues that to seriously cut pollution in Australia we need to transition energy production and use away from polluting sources like coal, to clean alternatives like wind and solar.
“Australia must seriously consider how to start retiring the most polluting and out-dated coal plants and replacing them with clean energy,” Cousins said. “Clean energy alternatives are ready and available. And the big electricity consumers must start to use energy much more efficiently.
“The federal government should also stop paying the big polluters to pollute. The mining and gas companies in the top ten receive handouts in the form of Fuel Tax Credits and accelerated depreciation allowances that lower tax revenue, make it cheaper to pollute and delay the transition to cleaner energy.”