German environment minister defends coal power penalty plan amid protests

Published 23:38 on April 20, 2015  /  Last updated at 23:38 on April 20, 2015  /  EMEA, EU ETS  /  No Comments

German environment minister Barbara Hendricks defended plans to force ageing coal-fired power plants to buy extra EUAs, which has split the government and angered industry.

German environment minister Barbara Hendricks defended plans to force ageing coal-fired power plants to buy extra EUAs, which has split the government and angered industry.

Hendricks told journalists on Monday that the proposed levy risked harming Chancellor Angela Merkel’s international credibility as she prepares to host the G7 summit in June in Ellmau.

“It will be very difficult for the chancellor to travel to Ellmau if she can’t implement her own goals,” Reuters reported Hendricks saying.

Hendricks is a member of the junior coalition partner Social Democrats, whose leader came up with the controversial plan.

But several senior figures in Merkel’s conservative party oppose the measures, designed to help meet a shortfall in Germany’s 2020 target to cut emissions 40% under 1990 levels.

Germany’s main energy and mining union is organising a protest on Apr. 25 against the plans, which it says could endanger more than 50,000 jobs in Germany’s energy and lignite mining industries.  Utilities also warn it could raise power prices as older plants are closed completely instead of have their operating hours reduced.

German vice-chancellor and the economy and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel had previously said the country can’t afford to phase out both nuclear and coal power concurrently, but he has since assured industry that the government’s proposals will be phased-in carefully.

By Ben Garside – ben@carbon-pulse.com