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Germany to Phase Out Coal by 2038  


FILE - Water vapor rises from the cooling towers of the Jaenschwalde lignite-fired power plant of Lausitz Energie Bergbau AG beside a wind turbine in Jaenschwalde, Germany, Jan. 24, 2019.

A government-appointed commission laid out a plan Saturday for Germany to phase out coal use by 2038.

The commission — made up of politicians, climate experts, union representatives and industry figures from coal regions — developed the plan under mounting pressure on Europe's top economy to step up efforts to combat climate change.

"This is a historic day," the commission's head, Ronald Pofalla, said after 20 hours of negotiations.

The recommendations, which involve at least $45.6 billion in aid to coal-mining states affected by the move, must be reviewed by the German government and 16 regional states.

While some government officials lauded the report, energy provider RWE, which runs several coal-fired plants, said the 2038 cutoff date would be "way too early."

Despite its reputation as a green country, Germany relies heavily on coal for its power needs, partly because of Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to phase out nuclear power plants by 2022 in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Coal accounted for more than 30 percent of Germany's energy mix in 2018 — significantly higher than the figures in most other European countries.

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