Protesters dressed as polar bears hold a poster prior to a meeting of a panel of experts on the exit of the using coal in Germany called 'Coal Commission' in Berlin, Germany, Friday, 25 January 2019. Germany wants to stop using coal, a major source of the carbon emissions that drive climate change. The slogan reads 'coal free - instead of climate crises'. Photo: Kay Nietfeld / dpa / AP

By Frank Jordans
25 January 2019

BERLIN (AP) – Miners’ unions and environmentalists held competing protests Friday outside the German government building where experts were holding crunch talks on plans to end the country’s use of coal.

Unions oppose Germany quitting coal quickly and are demanding assurances from the government that jobs will be protected. Green groups, meanwhile, are calling for the swift closure of coal-fired plants and mines to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help curb climate change.

A survey released by public broadcaster ZDF found 73 percent of Germans believe a quick exit from coal is very important. The telephone poll of 1,285 people had a margin of error of about three percentage points.

The meeting in Berlin follows months of haggling over the amount of funding affected regions and companies will get, and what the final deadline for coal use in Germany will be.

Greenpeace, which wants all coal plants shut down by 2030, said Germany needs to show leadership after failing to cut its carbon emissions for a decade.

“We need legally binding goals for how quickly emissions in Germany need to fall,” Martin Kaiser, head of international climate politics at Greenpeace, told The Associated Press. “Otherwise we will crash past the climate goals for 2030, as we did for 2020.”

The government had appointed the 28-person panel — composed of scientists, politicians, environmental campaigners and business representatives — last year to ensure all interests were heard and the shift away from coal is as smooth as possible. […]

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said ensuring a reliably supply of electricity and affordable energy prices were a priority for Europe’s biggest economy.

“The energy transition will succeed if we get a big consensus from all actors in society,” Altmaier told reporters. [more]

Miners, environmentalists protest outside German coal talks

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