The panel is represented by 28 members coming from different backgrounds such as mining regions, utility companies, scientists, and environmentalists.
Last year, pressure grew on the government to cut down coal dependence as protesters camped out on trees in Germany’s ancient woodland, “The protests with tens of thousands of people in the forest were a turning point in coal and climate policy in Germany,” said Martin Kaiser of Green Peace Germany.
The commission’s proposal needs government approval before it can be implemented. If it were to go through, this would represent an example for other coal-dependent countries.
“The whole world is watching how Germany—a nation based on industry and engineered, the fourth largest economy on our planet—is taking the historic decision of phasing out coal. This could cascade globally, locking in the fastest energy transition in history” said the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research Johan Rockstroem.
Germany obtains more than a third of its electricity from burning coal, compared to 30.1 percent in the United States, and five percent in Britain—who plans to phase out coal by 2025.
To the detriment of the environment and overall health of the population, the coal industry—made up of approximately 120 coal and lignite plants—possesses a combined capacity of about 45 gigawatts, which can be translated to enough power to supply 40 percent of the nation’s power demand or about 32 million homes.
The German energy utility company RWE has warned that halting coal production would eventually cost thousands of jobs and lead to hundreds of millions of euros in writedowns.
The plan put forth by the commission also includes provisions to help lessen the economic impacts on the industry and the regions involved: US$45.6 billions in utility-compensation.
The compensation proposal is part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s strategy to sell her plan for scaling back greenhouse gases while at the same time softening the blow on the industry.