Well done Germany, what about coal?

ECO was delighted to hear that Germany has decided to stop export credit guarantees for nuclear installations abroad. Well done to our hosts – but here’s our first question: why did it take 13 years to draw the logical consequence from the 2001 decision to phase-out nuclear power? Only three years ago, the conservative-liberal government tried to mobilise another €1.3 billion export guarantee for Areva to build the Angra-3 nuclear reactor in Brazil. Only a strong refusal by Parliament and civil society stopped this crazy plan.

Today, Germany has become the country of the Energiewende, and wants to be seen as the front-runner in clean energy. Renewable energy is speeding up and it has already reached a 27% share of electricity. Renewable energy is seen as the backbone of Germany’s efforts to reach its national GHG reduction targets of 40% by 2020 and 55% by 2030.  Energy efficiency also needs a similar emphasis.

So, dear German government, if you have decided that renewables are the way to go, here is ECO’s second question: Why are you stopping export guarantees for nuclear, but still giving export credits to coal power plants all over the planet?

Between 2007 and 2013, developed countries collectively provided US$36 billion to coal through their national export credit agencies. With export credits worth nearly $3 billion, Germany places third in this dirty league table. The state-owned development bank KfW is the driver of such coal support.

The US, UK, Netherlands and several Nordic countries, as well as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank have decided to end or strictly limit their support for coal overseas. Meanwhile, KfW continues to give credits to coal power plants and infrastructure worldwide, to the tune of at least €2 billion. This means that high emission infrastructure is locked in for decades, undermining the goal to decarbonise energy supply as fast as possible.

In October 2013, the OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría asked “every government” to question domestic and overseas support for coal. The UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September in New York is the perfect moment for Germany and other developed countries to announce the end of their support for coal power plants and fossil fuel infrastructure. Germany should not wait another 13 years to draw conclusions that can help to save the planet.

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