The Commission on Growth, Structural Change and Employment presented its final report on 26 January 2019. The Federal Cabinet had appointed the Commission on Growth, Structural Change and Employment and tasked it with plotting a path for the phase-out of coal in a way that short-, medium and long-term climate targets could be achieved. The Commission was also tasked with submitting proposals for the structural development of affected regions, aimed at strengthening growth and employment.
Opinion on climate action and the legal admissibility of decommissioning lignite- and hard coal-fired power plants
In preparation of implementing the Climate Action Plan 2050, the BMU commissioned an opinion in January 2018 on the legal issues regarding the decommissioning of lignite- and hard coal-fired power plants. The opinion was submitted in mid-November 2018. Key findings are:
- Under constitutional law, the legislator can close down power plants ahead of time. It can also intervene in active licenses.
- Regulations on the decommissioning of power plants are not expropriation; they determine content and limits of property. Therefore there is no general claim for compensation because of decommissioning a coal-fired power plant.
- The legislator is, however, obligated to limit economic disadvantages for the affected companies as much as possible (for example without lowering the targets pursued by the regulations) and distribute the burden evenly. Differentiation may be justified if there are material reasons for doing so.
- Transitional operation of one to two years should be made possible for fully amortised coal-fired power plant units, too.
- Disproportionate burdens, especially those resulting from investments that cannot be amortised any more, must be offset. Low deficits in amortisation do not have to be considered.
- Offsetting deficits in amortisation must occur, first and foremost, through regulations such as transition periods and hardship clauses. Financial compensation must be secondary to these other options. Offsetting investments that do not amortise for market economy reasons, such as a price drop on the electricity exchange, does not have to be considered.
The version of the opinion of 13 December 2018 published here contains minor editorial changes compared to the version of 9 November 2018.
Publication on questions about the phase-out of coal power
The BMU commissioned a report on the phase-out of coal power that sets out the facts, puts them in a wider context, lists pros and cons of potential actions and illustrates the scientific background of each option. The report aims to be scientifically neutral. Another aim is to lay out the information in a way that is easy to understand for readers who have no previous knowledge about the topic without oversimplifying. The report is also available in English. The opinions in the report do not necessarily reflect the position of the BMU.