German energy giant RWE to end coal use by 2030

German energy giant RWE to end coal use by 2030
German climate protection minister Robert Habeck and RWE chief executive Markus Krebber give a press conference on the agreement (Kay Nietfeld/dpa/AP)

German energy giant RWE has said it will phase out the burning of coal by 2030, saving 280 million metric tons of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions.

The decision will accelerate the closure of some of Europe’s most polluting power plants and a vast lignite strip mine in the west of the country.

Residents of several villages and farms near the Garzweiler mine, west of Cologne, will no longer face eviction.

The exception is Luetzerath, a hamlet that has been the focus of protests by environmentalists and which will now need to be cleared to extract more coal in the short term.

The government argues that this is necessary to ensure energy security amid the fallout from Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

German minister Robert Habeck speaks about the agreement on an accelerated coal phase-out in 2030 and the strengthening of supply security (Kay Nietfeld/dpa/AP)

Tuesday’s announcement boosts the German government’s efforts to bring forward the deadline for coal use by eight years from 2038 as part of the country’s goal of ending its greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

Economy minister Robert Habeck, who is responsible for energy and climate protection, said negotiations with the operators of Germany’s other coal mines and eight coal-fired power plants are continuing.

In parallel with its phasing out of coal, RWE will expand its renewable energy production and build gas-fired power plants capable of burning hydrogen, the company said.

RWE, which announced the purchase of Con Edison Clean Energy Businesses in the United States at the weekend, said it is now on a path that is compatible with the 2015 Paris climate accord’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C (2.7F).

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