Germany made ‘painful choices’ in clearing village to make way for coal mine, climate envoy says | Climate News
Germany had to make a “painful choice” when it evicted the occupiers from a village to make room for a coal mine expansion, its climate envoy told Sky News.
Video footage of a clash between German riot police in Lucerat and protesters against the nearby Harzweiler lignite mine made headlines around the world.
The decision was seen by some as incompatible with Germany’s ambition to become a global climate leader.
Jennifer Morgan, Secretary of State and Special Envoy for International Climate Action, said: “This is a very difficult public debate to have if you are serious about moving forward on the climate crisis.
“Is there a difficult and painful choice along the way? Undoubtedly”.
Ms Morgan pointed to other ways Germany fought to keep the lights on while Russian President Vladimir Putin restricted gas supplies to Europe.
These include phasing out imports of all Russian fossil fuels “in a very short timeframe”, switching to 80% renewable energy by 2030, and reducing energy consumption by 60% in industry and 14% in households, she said.
Ms Morgan added: “I hope someone sees in this direction that Germany is heading that there are very difficult political compromises,” she said, referring to the fact that the North Rhine-Westphalia coal region subsequently put forward end date of coal mining.
But she acknowledged that Germany is “vulnerable” to the recent energy security crisis and that it “learned the hard way that you can’t rely so heavily on fossil fuels or on one country.”
The campaigner-turned-diplomat who was once head of Greenpeace International also hinted at some sympathy for the Lucerat activists.
She called it “incredibly important in the face of the climate crisis” that young people can participate “in the political debate about their future”.
“Balance the Interests of Fossil Fuels”
In an interview at the residence of the German ambassador in London, Ms Morgan said that “there is a need to rebalance” the impact of fossil fuels at the annual UN COP climate summits.
Last week 450 green groups wrote to the UN require overclockingafter 630 lobbyists signed up for COP27 in Egypt last year.
Their fears were heightened after the United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s largest oil producers and host of COP28 in December of this year, appointed the head of the oil company and the government minister to negotiate.
Ms Morgan said the world should “respect those the country has put forward” and that Sultan Ahmed al Jaber, like any COP president, will have to “take on a role that is actually above what they are currently time to do in their daily work.
Campaigners called on Mr Al Jaber to step down as head of Abu Dhabi’s state oil corporation, but Ms Morgan declined to say whether she would raise the issue when she met with him in February.
Asked if Germany, long skeptical of nuclear power, should reconsider the form of clean energy, she replied: “Definitely not.”
“Nuclear power itself carries huge risks, is extremely expensive and takes a long time to build,” she added.
Ms Morgan, who was in London for talks with government ministers Lord Zach Goldsmith and Graham Stuart, said it would be “safer” for the UK, which is planning a massive expansion of nuclear power, to stay away.
“Going further into offshore wind like the UK is doing and building it inland as well as onshore, aiming for energy efficiency – I think that’s the safer path,” she said.
Ms Morgan, who represents one of the world’s largest emitters and economies, also talked about what keeps her up at night.
“That we are moving too slowly,” she said. “The pace and scale of change is not fast enough and we have to do so many things at the same time.
“How do you get everyone to act like it’s a crisis?”
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