A government-appointed commission laid out a plan Saturday for Germany to phase out coal use by 2038.
The commission — made up of politicians, climate experts, union representatives and industry figures from coal regions — developed the plan under mounting pressure on Europe’s top economy to step up efforts to combat climate change.
“This is a historic day,” the commission’s head, Ronald Pofalla, said after 20 hours of negotiations.
The recommendations, which involve at least $45.6 billion in aid to coal-mining states affected by the move, must be reviewed by the German government and 16 regional states.
While some government officials lauded the report, energy provider RWE, which runs several coal-fired plants, said the 2038 cutoff date would be “way too early.”
Despite its reputation as a green country, Germany relies heavily on coal for its power needs, partly because of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to phase out nuclear power plants by 2022 in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Coal accounted for more than 30 percent of Germany’s energy mix in 2018 — significantly higher than the figures in most other European countries. (VOA)
US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has sent a letter to the German government threatening to curtail access to American intelligence if Berlin decides to issue contracts to Chinese tech giant Huawei to build their 5G communications networks, the media reported.
“The Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy has indeed received a letter; there is no comment on its content from their side. There will be a quick reply,” CNN quoted Matthias Wehler, spokesperson at the German embassy in Washington D.C., as saying on Monday.
Germany announced on March 7 that it wouldn’t ban any company from bidding on 5G contracts.
The State Department has not commented on Grenell’s letter, but Garrett Marquis, a National Security Council spokesperson, outlined how Huawei’s 5G networks could pose a constantly evolving and shifting threat.
“Because 5G networks are largely software-defined, updates pushed to the network by the manufacturer can radically change how they operate,” Marquis told CNN.
“The 5G networks our allies buy won’t be the networks that they eventually operate, as the software could be changed on a moment-to-moment basis by the manufacturer.”
The letter follows similar warnings by President Donald Trump’s administration urging allies to ban or restrict Huawei products from their 5G networks due to its ability to compromise national security by selling equipment with “backdoors” that could allow for unauthorised surveillance.
China and Huawei have vigorously pushed back on the US charges and the telecom giant last week filed a suit against Washington over the 2019 National Defence Authorization Act, which bans American federal agencies from buying Huawei products.
The lawsuit is Huawei’s most aggressive move yet to fight back against US claims.
Germany’s March 7 announcement follows a similar decision by the UK. Both countries argue they can mitigate any risks and their decisions could make it harder for Washington to convince smaller countries to follow suit.