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"Insiders" gets an expert's case against coal

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"Insiders" gets an expert's case against coal

"Insiders" gets an expert's case against coal
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A Professor of Energy Economics & Sustainable Development at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Claudia Kemfert, should be in command of all the facts when it comes to coal's position in the German economy, and its future. She spoke to euronews' Sophie Claudet.

"We want to be as green as we are seen in the outside world"

Claudia Kemfert Professor of Energy Economics & Sustainable Development

Sophie Claudet, "Insiders" producer:

"Claudia Kemfert, thanks for being with us. Germany's government appointed a commission to plan the exit from coal, but we've seen in our "Insiders" report that a very important mine is being expanded, so how serious is the government about dropping coal?"

Claudia Kemfert:

"The government seems to be serious about dropping coal because it wants to meet its climate target both of 2020 and 2030, but they have big constraints and obviously the coal lobby in Germany is very, very strong. The government waited too long in having a concrete coal phase-out, and the result we see right now. We have big battles about when and how the coal needs to be shut down."

SC:

"Let's talk about the pro-coal lobbying. You say it's really strong. Is it strong at influencing politicians, for example?"

CK:

"It is strong in influencing politicians, the lobby, because we have had, for many decades, coal in Germany, also in Western Germany, and there's a strong connection to one party, the Social Democrats, and they have strong connections also with the labour forces which are fighting for each coal job."

SC:

"When in fact the jobs in the coal sector are way less than the ones in the renewable sector..."

CK:

"Way less than in the renewable sector, so we have 20,000 jobs in the coal sector, and 400,000 jobs in the renewable sector."

SC:

"The government commission planning the exit from coal is supposed to come up with a date by the end of the year. When is it going to, do you think?

CK:

"Well, we can shut down coal as soon as possible if we replace it with renewable energy, so we need to do more to increase the share of renewable energy, that would be the first fact. And then we can shut down, right now already a lot of coal power plants because we are producing more electricity than we need , and then we can reduce step by step the coal share by 2030, maximum, in order to replace the whole share of coal by renewables, but we need a little bit of time for that."

SC:

"Germany is slated to abandon nuclear power production by 2022, and it wants to eventually drop out of coal. Is it reasonable and realistic to carry out both tasks at the same time?"

CK:

"Not at the same time, but one after the other. So we will phase out nuclear by 2022 and then we will start the phase-out of coal after that time and reduce the share of coal of, now 40%, step by step to 2030. That is realistic if we increase the share of renewable energy quite drastically."

SC:

"How does Germany compare to other European countries when it comes to coal consumption and production? Is it the bad apple in the lot?"

CK:

"Germany has a very high share of coal, and especially lignite, which takes the emissions up very high, and this in comparison to other European countries, really a large share. And we need to reduce that because we also want to have an energy transition with more renewables, and coal is not fitting to this scenario, so we really have to be better in Europe and show that we take this seriously."

SC:

"How come Germany is widely perceived as being green and climate friendly when we know, in fact, that it consumes and produces a lot of coal. Why is it so successful in greenwashing?"

CK:

"Yeah, that's a big question and we have to face this paradox because we have to reduce the share of coal, and we want to be as green as we are seen in the outside world, so this is a first step. We have to show , otherwise we are losing credibility."