Germany will need to completely phase out coal-fired power generation in order to meet its climate targets. This is generally accepted, although the precise timeframe of a coal phase-out is still a matter of contentious debate. This is a particular problem for the remaining lignite mining regions in Germany, where coal industry typically provides a high share of local employment and added value. In these regions, the coal phase-out will lead to significant negative consequences. However, Germany possesses a wealth of experience in managing structural change.
This briefing evaluates these German and some selected international experiences in the context of a German coal phase-out, and reflects upon which policy instruments have proved successful in the past. Learning from the German experience is particularly relevant now, as the country is currently facing many tough questions that other countries will soon have to deal with in phasing out coal – particularly in Southern and Eastern Europe.