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German talks to form coalition take first hurdle as details emerge

Talks to form a coalition government in Germany have taken a first hurdlewith Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU and the SPD on Friday wrapping up aweek of preliminary talks with a set of joint positions revealing first policydetails.

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* Parties wrap up week of preliminary talks with joint positions

* Progress pending green light by SPD members in Jan 21 vote

* Further details on climate targets, renewables expansion

Those position papers will now be discussed by the wider party bodies andface a crucial vote by SPD members in a party conference on January 21.

If given the green light, official talks to form a coalition can startwith a target of forming a new "Grand Coalition" government before Easter.

The initial attempt to form a coalition with Merkel's CDU/CSU, the Greensand the liberal FDP failed at this stage in November.


News leaked earlier this week that the parties are ready to scrap the2020 climate target of a 40% cut in carbon emissions already saw German Cal 20power prices fall with a slightly different wording in the final documentfocusing more on the 2030 target, but little specific measures for the powersector ahead of 2020.

German energy lobby group BDEW described the joint position papers a"solid basis for coalition talks" but called for a more detailed timetable ofmeasures with the energy industry needing urgent clarity for its investmentplans for the next decade.

According to BDEW, the German power sector is on track to meet its 2020carbon-cutting sector target with BDEW having presented a proposal in Decemberto remove an additional 5 GW of coal capacity from the market by 2020 throughan auction-based system with compensation for the operators.

So far, the short position paper for energy only refers to a "package ofmeasures" to close the gap to the 2020 climate targets "as much as possible."

Instead of coal closure details, the parties plan to boost the renewablesexpansion with a 4 GW boost to onshore wind and solar PV auctions by 2020.

The already formed "structural change commission" will be tasked withcoming up with details for further lignite coal plant closures by the end ofthis year amid a gradual phase-out, according to reports.

The leading energy policy negotiators in the preliminary talks -- thestate ministers for North-Rhine Westphalia (Armin Laschet, CDU) and LowerSaxony (Stephan Weil, SPD) -- also agreed to set a new target of 65% share ofrenewable power in the annual mix by 2030.

Last year, renewables accounted for 36% in the German power mix with theshare of coal falling to 37%, according to preliminary data by BDEW.

All of Germany's decarbonization efforts would be united into a 2030climate protection law, to be adopted in 2019. That would include climateaction plans for transport and the building sector, though there is no furtherdetail yet on what those should contain.

According to the BDEW's reaction statement, the heating and transportsectors have the biggest potential for carbon emissions cuts with very littledetail so far.

--Andreas Franke,

--Edited by Maurice Geller, maurice,