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    German Greens must accelerate climate policies after coal mine protest

    January 19, 2023 - CE Noticias Financieras


      By Riham Alkousaa

      BERLIN, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Germany's Greens party can weather disapproval from its environmental base for its role in approving the demolition of a village to expand a coal mine if it uses that concession to accelerate other climate policies, activists and analysts say.

      Two Green ministers spearheaded the government's decision to demolish the village of Luetzerath in western Germany, a move that sparked clashes between activists and police in protests last week. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg was briefly detained.

      The government, in which the Greens are coalition partners, agreed to RWE's mine expansion on condition that the energy company abandon coal eight years ahead of schedule in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

      The Greens considered these conditions a victory, although the move outraged many environmental activists, especially since the coal being mined is lignite, one of the most polluting types.

      "They keep talking about the 1.5-degree target, when it is clear that we will break it by 2030 at the latest," said Jakob Beyer of the climate group Last Generation, referring to the goal of preventing the planet from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

      Other Green supporters saw it as a pragmatic move, as Germany needs to replace dwindling Russian gas supplies amid the Ukrainian crisis, but said it should be followed by a greater effort by coalition partners to accelerate the shift to renewables and push for other climate policies.

      "Many people understand that other things have been prioritized for now, but this understanding will run out at some point," Sascha Mueller-Kraenner, national managing director of the environmental group DUH, told Reuters.

      According to Mueller-Kraenner, the Greens have to ensure a faster phase-out of coal for electricity generation than the government's agreed deadline of 2038, a demand resisted by many eastern German states amid the energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine.


      "We will continue to fight to ensure that climate protection is implemented, whether on the issue of gas agreements, the phasing out of coal in eastern Germany or the change in transport," said Greens lawmaker Lisa Badum.

      The party will be assessed on the green elements of the government's agenda to ensure that renewables cover 80% of electricity production by 2030 and to clean up transport and construction, which missed annual greenhouse gas emission targets in 2022.

      But analysts say the Greens face bureaucratic hurdles and resistance from some regional governments to the rollout of renewables, and have yet to win over the coalition's junior partner, the FDP, in some areas of the environmental agenda.

      (Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Edmund Blair, edited in English by José Muñoz in the Gdansk editorial office.)


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