German leader warns of ‘global coal renaissance’

BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday that Russia’s war in Ukraine must not lead to a “global renaissance” in coal — comments that come as Germany itself brings power plants back online in coal in order to avoid an energy crisis this winter.

In a speech to parliament, Scholz highlighted his government’s efforts to counter the effects of Russia’s decision to cut gas supplies to Germany. The government has in recent months approved the reactivation of several coal and oil-fired power stations, and environmental activists are warning that Germany risks missing out on its climate targets by burning more fossil fuels.

Scholz said five other plants using lignite, a low-quality, high-emitting type of coal, have been brought back online in recent days “as a time-limited but necessary emergency measure”. The chancellor also decided this week to keep the last three German nuclear power plants, which were originally due to be shut down at the end of the year, operating until mid-April.

“We continue to stand firm on our climate goals,” Scholz told lawmakers.

Officials from nearly 200 countries will meet next month in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to discuss how to tackle global warming.

Scholz pledged that Germany, which is poised to expand its use of renewable energy, will pass all key laws needed to meet its climate targets by the end of this year and that the European Union will stay the course. He called for a final deal in the coming months on the EU’s proposed ‘Fit for 55’ package to meet the bloc’s targets of cutting emissions of gases that cause global warming by 55% this decade. .

“Russian aggression and its consequences must not lead to a global coal renaissance,” said the Chancellor. “We will make clear offers so that developing and emerging countries can also embark firmly on the path to a climate-neutral energy sector.”

“We will vigorously help the States which are already suffering today particularly from the consequences of climate change”, he added.

Germany’s foreign minister said earlier this month that Berlin wanted the huge economic damage resulting from global warming to be discussed at climate talks in Egypt.

Coal accounted for 31.4% of Germany’s power generation in the first half of this year, up from 27.1% a year earlier. About 48.5% of the country’s electricity came from renewable sources, down from 43.8% the previous year, while the proportions from nuclear power and gas fell to 6% and 11.7%, respectively.

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