Germany reached an agreement Thursday that will allow it to stop burning coal by 2038.
The national government struck a deal with the leaders of the country's coal-producing regions that will compensate workers, companies and regional governments more than 40 billion euros (approximately $44.7 billion), Reuters reported. Legislation finalizing the coal phaseout will be presented to parliament by the end of January.
"Germany, one of the strongest and most successful industry nations in the world, is taking huge steps towards leaving the fossil fuel era," Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said at a press conference reported by Reuters.
The deal will help Germany reach its 2030 climate goals. The country has promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent of 1990 levels by 2030 after failing to meet an earlier goal to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2020, The New York Times reported in September.
However, green groups argue that the planned coal phaseout is too slow.
Christoph Bals, policy director for the environmental group Germanwatch, agreed.
"The majority of the necessary reductions are being pushed to the end of the 2020s," he told The New York Times Thursday.
Germany is currently the world's leading producer of brown lignite coal, the dirtiest type of coal. The government said it may move up its phaseout of brown coal to 2035, BBC News reported.
To make an end to coal use possible, the government has agreed to pay up to 40 billion euros to the coal-producing regions of Brandenburg, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt in the east and North-Rhine Westphalia in the west, Reuters reported. Most of that money will go towards building new infrastructure in areas reliant on coal power and retraining workers for new jobs, according to BBC News.
Companies will be compensated 4.35 billion euros (approximately $4.84 billion), according to Reuters.
Thirty coal-fired plants in Germany will need to close. The dirtiest and oldest will shutter first, starting with one in Rhineland that will close this year. But the government is also bringing a new coal-fired plant online this year, the Datteln 4 plant that is cleaner than the older plants being retired. The new plant has angered activists, who think it moves the country in the wrong direction.
"Australia's forests are burning, millions of people are demonstrating for climate protection and the German government is clearing the way for a new coal power plant,'' Martin Kaiser, the managing director of Greenpeace Germany, told Euronews. "Nothing shows more clearly than Datteln 4 that this government can't find an answer to the climate crisis.''
However, Germany isn't only working to end its coal use. It has also promised to end its reliance on nuclear energy by 2022, The New York Times reported.
In the third quarter of 2019, Germany got 14 percent of its energy from nuclear, 28 percent from coal and 42 percent from renewable energy. It aims to raise the share of its electricity generated by renewables to 65 percent by 2030, according to Euronews.
"We are the first country that is exiting nuclear and coal power on a binding basis, and this is an important international signal that we are sending,'' she told Euronews.
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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