November 8, 2017

Hannah McKinnon, hannah [at] priceofoil [dot] org
Alex Doukas, alex [at] priceofoil [dot] org

Germany must quit fossil fuels to regain climate leadership: new report

Rapidly phasing out coal, banning oil and gas expansion, and ending dirty international finance are required for Germany to recover its climate leadership.

Germany presents itself as a climate leader on the world stage, but its failure to address fossil fuel production at home and abroad undermines Germany’s claims of leadership, according to a new report by Oil Change International.

“Germany’s coal mining exports destruction to the Pacific and the world,” says George Nacewa, Climate Warrior from the Fiji Islands. “Climate change poses a direct threat to our home and our people. We demand an immediate end to the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. In order to give Pacific Islands a fighting chance for survival, the future must be one powered by renewable energy and free of fossil fuels.”

The report, entitled “Time to Stop Digging: Why German Climate Leadership Requires a Rapid Phaseout of Fossil Fuel Production and Finance” can be found at

Highlights of the key findings of the report include:

  • Germany must phase out all coal mining within 10 years or less, or the Paris goals will become unachievable. As the world’s largest producer of lignite coal, Germany is well-positioned to lead in a rapid shutdown of existing coal mines.
  • Germany has failed to invest in protecting the livelihoods of coal miners – this has become the blockage to a fast phaseout.
  • Germany must now provide major resources for a just transition for workers and communities, giving those affected people a chance to shape their futures.
  • Between 2014 and 2016, Germany contributed over 50% more public finance for fossil fuel expansion abroad than for clean energy expansion abroad (USD 13 billion versus USD 8 billion).
  • Germany’s public finance for fossil fuel expansion abroad is five times as much as the entire world spends to support climate and disaster resilience in small island developing states (such as Fiji, this year’s President of the UN climate change negotiations).

“German taxpayers are financing the climate crisis because their government continues to provide handouts for fossil fuel production abroad,” says report co-author Alex Doukas of Oil Change International. “As a champion of clean and renewable energy at home, it is deeply hypocritical that Germany is still pouring billions into dirty energy beyond its borders.”

The report makes recommendations in two areas: Phasing out domestic fossil fuel production and eliminating support for fossil fuels abroad. These recommendations include a managed decline with a just transition of lignite coal production in the near term, a proactive and complete legislated ban on oil and gas exploration and expansion, and an immediate end to financial support for fossil fuel production internationally.

“Come hurricane or high water – literally – German-financed technology is helping one of the world’s wealthiest oil companies insulate its deepwater drilling from extreme weather, and unlock more of the carbon pollution driving it,” says report co-author Kelly Trout of Oil Change International, referring to a German-financed offshore drilling unit being used by Shell in the Gulf of Mexico that is touted for its ability to escape incoming hurricanes and resume production quickly. “It is absurd at best and malicious at worst as communities across the globe face increasingly severe climate disasters.”


Editor’s note:

This report is in collaboration with

This report is one of a series of national briefings that follows a global report published by Oil Change International entitled, The Sky’s Limit: Why the Paris Climate Goals Require a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production. The report found that burning the oil, gas, and coal in already-producing fields and mines around the world would be enough to take the world beyond 2 degrees Celsius of warming; therefore, meeting the Paris goals requires an end to new fossil fuel development.

This report considers the conclusions of that work and applies the same methodology for Germany. For further detail on methodology and international implications, please see the original report. It can be found at: