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Young people call for end of coal

The Fridays for Future movement wants coal to be phased out faster to protect the climate. Is that really feasible after the phasing out of nuclear energy?

Martin Orth, 07.06.2019
Concern about the environment: protest against coal-fired power plants
Concern about the environment: protest against coal-fired power plants © dpa

For several months, school students have also been demonstrating in Germany for more climate protection. The Fridays for Future movement of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has triggered a debate in Germany about national climate protection goals.

What are the reasons?

The Fridays for Future activists feel that not enough is being done for climate protection. A particular criticism they have in Germany is that the so-called coal compromise, which was agreed at the beginning of 2019 and envisages the phasing out of coal by the end of 2038, is incompatible with the 1.5-degree climate target.

What does the Fridays for Future movement want?

The German climate activists presented a list of demands in April 2019. It involves a coal phase-out by 2030 and the shutdown of a quarter of all coal-fired power plants by the end of 2019.

What do the energy supply figures say?

In 2018, 37% of electricity was produced from coal, 13% with nuclear power and 40% from renewable energies.

Is a coal phase-out realistic after the phasing out of nuclear power?

In 2011, the Federal Government decided to phase out the use of nuclear power. The energy transition involves a gradual phasing out of the use of nuclear energy by 2022. The coal phase-out demanded by the movement would therefore mean that the energy sources for 50% of total electricity production would dry up in the next eleven years.

What are the reactions to Fridays for Future?

Many scientists, such as Volker Quaschning, the professor for renewable energy systems, consider the students’ demands justified. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has also praised the campaign, because it will only be possible to achieve climate protection goals with support from society. She now intends to give climate policy top priority again and has formed a “climate cabinet” for that purpose. This means all the relevant ministers will meet at the Chancellery and deliberate on how to achieve the climate goals.


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