Comparing coal phase-out pathways: The United Kingdom’s and Germany’s diverging transitions

Hanna Brauers, Pao-Yu Oei, Paula Walk (2020). “Comparing coal phase-out pathways: The United Kingdom’s and Germany’s diverging transitions.” Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 37, 238-253. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eist.2020.09.001

Abstract: Political decisions and trends regarding coal use for electricity generation developed differently in the UK and Germany, despite being subject to relatively similar climate protection targets and general political and economic conditions. The UK agreed on a coal phase-out by 2024. In Germany, a law schedules a coal phase-out by 2038 at the latest. This paper investigates reasons for the different developments and aims to identify main hurdles and drivers of coal phase-outs by using the Triple Embeddedness Framework.

The comparative case study approach reveals that policy outcomes regarding coal consumption are deeply influenced by several actor groups, namely, coal companies, unions, environmental NGOs, and the government. The most discussed aspects of a coal phase-out in both countries are energy security concerns, whether coal is mined domestically, (regional) economic dependence, as well as the relative power of actors with vested interests in coal consumption.

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