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Germany’s Green Party says 20 coal plants must close if Merkel wants pact

20 of Germany’s dirtiest coal-fired power stations could be closed if the Green Party gets its way after the upcoming election.

The Greens’ co-leader Cem Ozdemir said he wanted to anchor the fight against climate change as the core “philosophy” of the next government, particularly given the backdrop of recent severe weather - from flooding in Germany to drought in southern Europe.

Polls suggest that Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) may need to enter into a coalition with the Greens in order to command enough votes to govern. The CDU are currently predicted to win the election with around 38 per cent of the vote which will mean they will need the support of both the Greens and the liberal FDP to rule.

“It is almost as if nature is trying to speak to us,” Ozdemir told journalists whilst aboard a solar-powered boat anchored in Berlin, which the Greens planned to sail past Merkel’s office later in the day.

The Greens, however, have raised doubts about the viability of such an alliance, as they would be reluctant to work with the FDP. Ozdemir highlighted the gulf between these two parties, noting that a leading member of the FDP had branded links between recent extreme weather events and climate change as “fake news”.

“We will talk to everybody but not about everything,” Ozdemir said of potential coalition negotiations.

Support for the Greens is on eight per cent in the latest polls, but a Forsa survey showed half of Germans would welcome the Greens being part of the new government.

A study last week showed that Germany is set to miss its goal to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by a far wider margin than previously thought.

“Instead of being world champions in climate protection, we are world champions in lignite coal,” Ozdemir said, noting that Germany’s CO2 emissions have been rising for eight years.

Once dubbed the ‘climate chancellor’ for pushing other wealthy nations to address climate change, Merkel has come under fire for not moving Germany fast enough to cut its reliance on fossil fuels as it phases out nuclear power.

Merkel has suggested that Germany should eventually consider phasing out lignate coal power plants to help it cut CO2 emissions, but she is treading carefully as the move could hit tens of thousands of jobs.

Ozdemir said the Greens would demand that any government it joins must allot €1bn (£910m) a year to improve public transport and cycle paths and should push for improved CO2 emissions trading at a European level.

Despite German efforts to boost renewable energy industries in the quest for a carbon neutral economy, the country’s reliance on coal has proved difficult to overcome.

Although well over €20bn is spent annually to boost Germany’s green energy sector, coal still accounts for 40 per cent of energy generation, down just 10 points from 2000. 

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