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25 January 2016

Eleven principles for a consensus on coal (short version)

Concept for a stepwise decarbonisation of the German power sector

Eleven Principles for a Consensus on Coal (Short Version)


Since the historical climate agreement in Paris, the following is now abundantly clear: Decarbonisation is the key issue that will define the debate over the future of the world’s energy systems. While Germany has traditionally had a large coal industry, it is also a pioneer in the adoption of renewable energy – accordingly, we can no longer avoid debate on the future of coal. The greenhouse reduction targets that have been set for 2030, 2040 and 2050 inevitably mean that coal must be phased out.

Due to the long time frames of investment decisions in the energy sector, industry actors need legal certainty moving forward. Providing such certainty is possible, as Germany was recently able to resolve two major points of dispute in its energy policy – namely, the decision to phase out nuclear power, and the decision to stop mining hard coal. The time is ripe for reaching a consensus on the future of coal, rather than allow a fundamental conflict in energy policy to become entrenched for decades.

A large number of experts share the view that the time for action is now – not only commentators (among others Süddeutsche Zeitung, Rheinische Post, Handelsblatt, Spiegel), but also by the German Advisory Council on the Environment and The German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), which has called for a structured dialog process on the future role of coal.

Key findings

  1. The Foundation

    Principle 1: Convening a ‘Round Table for a National Consensus on Coal’ Principle 2: Incremental, legally binding phase-out of coal power by 2040

  2. The Coal Phase-Out in Germany’s Power Plant Fleet

    Principle 3: No new construction of coal-fired power plants Principle 4: Determine a cost-efficient decommissioning plan for existing coal power plants based on remaining plant lifespans, including flexibility options in lignite mining regions Principle 5: No additional national climate policy regulations for coal-fired power plants beyond the phase-out plan

  3. The Coal Phase-Out in Lignite Mining Regions

    Principle 6: No additional lignite mines and no further relocation processes of affected communities Principle 7: The follow-up costs of lignite mining should be financed with a special levy on lignite Principle 8: Creation of ‘Structural Change Fund’ to ensure a sound financial basis for structural change in affected regions

  4. Economic and Social Aspects of the Coal Phase-Out

    Principle 9: Ensuring security of supply over the entire transformation period Principle 10: Strengthening EU Emissions Trading and the prompt retirement of CO? certificates set free by the coal phase-out Principle 11: Ensuring the economic competitiveness of energy-intensive companies and the Germany economy as a whole during the transformation process

Bibliographical data

Dr. Patrick Graichen, Dr. Barbara Praetorius, Dr. Gerd Rosenkranz, Philipp Litz
Publication number
Version number
Publication date

25 January 2016

Suggested Citation
Agora Energiewende (2016): Eleven Principles for a Consensus on Coal: Concept for a stepwise Decarbonisation of the German power sector (Short Version)
This publication was produced within the framework of the project Consensus on Coal.


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