Germany and Canada are trying to democratically legalize the phasing out of coal – solidarity

IASS realization

Phasing out coal is essential for effective climate protection, but it raises concerns and resistance in affected areas. In order to successfully shape the accompanying structural change, Canada and Germany engaged different interest groups. at New (under CC license in Geopolitics Published) a study To compare IASS researchers Two stakeholder committees are based on expert interviews with their members and track how governments legitimize their exit policy.

Welzow Süd Open Mine: Landscape of the moon with a coal excavator in the distance Photo © Gerhard Hoffmann for Solarify

In the study, scientists identified similarities and differences in the context of phasing out coal. For example, electricity generation from coal plays a much larger role in Germany than in Canada. However, there are many similarities in the two countries. The coal sector is largely concentrated in economically disadvantaged rural areas. Concerns about job losses make it difficult for politicians to achieve an early exit. Even federalism in both states is not always conducive to a rapid energy transition: Canadian provinces and German federal states can significantly curb national ambitions.

Establishing a timeline for phasing out coal was no easy task. National governments in Canada and Germany attempted to legitimize their decisions by engaging key actors and potential players using the veto strategically. “This was an attempt to find a balance between the different interests,” says lead author Konrad Gortler. The Canadian government set one up Just a transition task force With a limited mandate focused on equitable local mobility of workers and communities. On the one hand, the German Coal Committee had to take into account the complex expectations regarding the history and path of phasing out coal, the implications for the energy transition and local structural change.

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In focus: climate justice, equitable structural change, energy justice

In both cases, attempts to establish legitimacy continued as a two-stage process, Gurtler explains: “Governments that engaged stakeholders and these stakeholders in turn had to fulfill the expectations of certain social groups. In this process, very different ideas of justice were negotiated: climate justice, Only structural change, energy justice. ”The Canadian task force has identified and represented the needs of those affected in the coal regions, while at the German Coal Commission a large number of organized actors – from industrial unions to trade unions to scientists and environmental protection organizations – have raised their concerns.

At the beginning of 2019, the Canadian task force presented a program of action to the government that the government intends to implement within the framework of the Fair Transition Act. However, this law has not yet been passed. The Coal Commission negotiated a minimum settlement that was only partially implemented by the federal government. Meanwhile, implementation of the compromise is being questioned by former members of the commission and may also be overridden by new developments, such as the Federal Constitutional Court ruling on climate protection law.

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