It comes after her centre-right party narrowly lost to the Social Democrats in Sunday’s election. Ms Merkel had previously coined herself “the climate Chancellor” and as she prepares to step down after 16 years in power, the 67-year-old has stated that her time in office has been “marked by working for measures against climate change”. But experts have exposed her apparent failure to combat Germany’s coal and car industries, which is said to be Germany’s biggest weakness when it comes to addressing the climate crisis.
While Germany was one of the early and adopters of renewable energy, the country still gets around 30 percent of its electricity from coal, with plans to phase it out in 2038.
The UK’s plan to phase out coal by 2024 far dwarf’s Ms Merkel’s, with a commitment.
Lutz Weischer, head of policy at Germanwatch said Ms Merkel’s target is “too late – by at least eight years”.
He added: “Germany’s addiction to coal has continued for too long.”
He also pointed out that Merkel has been hesitant to challenge the leaders of coal-producing regions like Saxony, Saxony Anhalt, Brandenburg and North-Rhine Westphalia.
But he did acknowledge that this is not an easy task.
He said: “Phasing out coal isn’t easy. Especially in the East where there aren’t other jobs and the extreme right and right populists are quite strong and they don’t want to give them an additional boost.”
Yvo De Boer, the former UN climate chief from 2006 to 2010, said: “Coal is synonymous with jobs and political interests in parts of the country.
“That has limited her capacity to act.”
German government data shows that Co2 emissions from road transport were higher in 2019 than they were in 1990.
This too does not bode well for her image as the “climate chancellor,” according to some.
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit and former BBC environment correspondent believes Ms Merkel has “failed to be firm with the coal and car industries” in Germany.