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Report: Germany's coal phase-out must begin by 2019 to meet Paris climate goals

For Germany to meet its Paris climate commitments, it must begin coal phase-out no later than 2019 and abolish the use of the fossil fuel completely by 2035, EurActiv Germany reported Jan. 23, citing WWF Germany's Electric Future report.

The country, which plays host to six of the European Union's dirtiest coal power plants, is considered one of the region's biggest polluters. In July 2016, an analysis of 257 of the EU's 280 coal plants found that their emissions played a part in the deaths of around 22,900 people, while many more suffer from illnesses tied closely with the burning of coal, the report said, adding that the corresponding health costs have exceeded an estimated €60 billion.

"Germany has a coal problem, and we can no longer put off addressing it. Our calculations clearly demonstrate that Germany's very old coal power plants need to be decommissioned as quickly as possible," said WWF Germany's Christoph Heinrich. "The Paris Agreement was unanimously ratified in the German parliament. ... This constitutes a clear mandate to start phasing out coal by 2019 at the latest. Any further delay would indicate that commitments made in line with the Paris agreement are not being taken seriously."

In early 2016, Germany's minister for economic affairs and energy, Sigmar Gabriel, said the economic repercussions of rapidly phasing out the fossil fuel should be taken into consideration. However, WWF's EU climate policy chief, Imke Lübbeke, said the move away from coal power "alongside dedicated support for mining regions affected by this transition, will relieve EU countries of massive health and social costs and help avoid the worst impacts of climate change."