Bonn, November 15, 2017 – Ahead of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s appearance at the UN climate talks, 14 Greenpeace Germany activists protested on a coal freighter on the Rhine River calling for a coal phase-out in Germany.
The activists laid out a banner reading “Merkel’s Dirty Secret: Coal” as it passed by the UN climate conference being held in Bonn. The ship supplies German coal-fired power plants with several thousand tons of imported hard coal shipped from Rotterdam harbour, Germany’s largest supplier of imported coal. Just yesterday Rotterdam city council announced that it plans to phase out all of the harbour’s coal terminals.Merkel, who has been seen in recent years as a climate champion, is due to address delegates at the UN summit with her credibility as a climate chancellor hanging in the balance.
“As Germany’s CO2 emissions are forecast to rise again in 2017 for the second consecutive year Chancellor Merkel’s climate protection pledge is only hot air,” Greenpeace Germany climate expert Karsten Smid said. “Instead of more sweet talk, Mrs Merkel must bring a concrete timetable to Bonn for an exit from climate destroying coal.”
During the speech, the Greenpeace ship Beluga II will be cruising in front of the negotiating area with a 7.5 by 7.5 meter banner with a portrait of Merkel and the appeal: “Acting instead of hypocrisy”.
Chancellor Merkel has repeatedly promised to honour her international pledge to cut Germany’s CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, but at current rates the country is expected to fall far short of that target. Germany is currently forecast to only cut emissions by around 30 percent.
“Germany must phase out coal by 2030, otherwise the federal government will sabotage the Paris Agreement,” Smid added.
Rotterdam harbour supplies 40% of north west Europe’s imported coal and is the largest supplier of Germany’s imported coal. Rotterdam city council’s decision to phase out coal terminals in its harbour puts extra pressure on Merkel to act.
“Rotterdam’s announcement puts the squeeze on Merkel. The economic, political and environmental logic all point towards one thing – coal has no future. Merkel must act on phasing out coal – there can be no more excuses,” said Greenpeace Netherlands climate campaigner Faiza Oulahsen.
“As the largest coal harbour in Europe, Rotterdam’s move is a recognition that the port bears responsibility to stop supplying the world’s most polluting fossil fuel to northern Europe, placing pressure on European governments to step up their actions to phase out coal.”
The exit from coal is a central issue in the ongoing coalition talks between the Union, the FDP and the Greens. While all parties are committed Germany’s climate goals, only the Greens have presented a proposal to reach them.
To reach the 2020 target, around 100 million tons of CO2 emissions need to be cut. In the short-term this can only be achieved by shutting down coal-fired power plants, whose electricity is now mainly exported abroad.
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