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Germany sticks to 2030 coal exit target despite energy crisis

Germany said Monday it still aimed to close its coal power plants by 2030 despite reverting to the fossil fuel following an energy crisis provoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The 2030 coal exit date is not in doubt at all,” economy ministry spokesman Stephan Gabriel Haufe said at a regular press conference.

The target was “more important than ever” in light of the greater CO2 emissions that would be produced by the government’s recent decision to rely more on coal for electricity generation.

Germany’s reliance on energy imports from Russia has made it particularly vulnerable as Moscow looks for leverages against the West.

Russia’s invasion of its neighbour has sent global prices for energy soaring and raised the prospect of shortages if supplies were to be cut off.

Since the outbreak of the conflict, Russian energy giant Gazprom has already stopped deliveries to a number of European countries, including Poland, Bulgaria, Finland and the Netherlands.

Germany’s decision to power up its coal power plants came after Gazprom cut deliveries to Germany via the Nord Stream gas pipeline last week.

The move, presented by Gazprom as a technical issue, has been criticised as “political” by Berlin.

In response, the German government announced emergency measures on Sunday under which reserve coal power generation capacity would be “used more”.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck, a Green party politician, described the decision as “bitter but indispensable for reducing gas consumption”.

The use of the surplus capacity was “limited to 2024”, the economy ministry spokesman said.

– Ideal date –

The European Commission noted Monday that “some of the existing coal capacities might be used longer than initially expected” because of the new energy landscape in Europe.

“We know that the energy mix and the plans of member states will adjust slightly because we are in an unexpected situation,” Commission spokesman Tim McPhie said at a press briefing.

Germany has set about weaning itself off Russian energy imports in response to the aggression in Ukraine.

So far, Europe’s largest economy has managed to reduce the share of its natural gas supplied by Russia from 55 percent before the invasion to 35 percent.

The government has also mandated the filling of gas reserves to 90 percent ahead of the European winter at the end of the year, to hedge against a further reduction in supply.

Germany’s government, a coalition between the Social Democrats, Liberals and Greens, aims “ideally” to close all coal power plants by 2030.

Their agreement, reached at the end of last year, brought forward the previous government’s aim to shut the plants by 2038.