The German government has approved a €40 billion ($44.6 billion) climate package to abandon coal in the country in order to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030.
The €40 billion package will need to be funded over the next four years, leaving some governmental officials skeptical as to how it will be paid for. “We agree that something needs to be done, but it is still open which form this will take,” one person involved in the deal told Reuters.
Over the next few months Germany’s ruling coalition, which include German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) sister party and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), will work together to create and pass legislation that will set the “dates and terms of Germany’s exit from coal,” reports the Associated Press.
The coalition’s goal is to finance the package with minimal effect on the economy, especially on German businesses and small earners.
“On the one hand, we want climate protection measures to be effective to meet our commitments,” said Merkel during her weekly podcast. “On the other hand, we want to be economically sensible and act in a socially acceptable way so that all people can afford climate protection.”
The decision to move away from coal, which includes closing the few remaining operating coal mines, received major backlash from German regions where coal mining helps provide financial security to local economies.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier reassured the people of these regions that the government is working on an overall coal package “that gives the regions hope, that gives people prospects, that shows we are leaving no one on their own and that the federal government is aware of its responsibility.”
In January a government-appointed panel recommended that Germany stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2038. Currently, the country relies on coal to power more than a third of its electricity. The country has seen many protests this year over its inevitable failure to meet its 2020 emissions goals, with environmental activists demanding faster, more bold climate action.