German workers march against coal-plant levy

A proposed levy on Germany's oldest, most polluting coal-fired power plants has caused opponents to take to the streets.

Reuters reported on Saturday that thousands of coal miners and workers in coal-fired plants marched in Berlin. The government wants to impose penalties on the plants in order to cut coal-sector emissions by a further 22 million tonnes by 2020. But opponents say it puts 100,000 jobs at risk and will damage the coal industry:

In Berlin, a crowd estimated by police at 13,500 marched from the economy ministry to the chancellery holding placards that read, "Hands off our brown coal", and "We oppose the social blackout in our region".

Meanwhile, 6,000 environmental campaigners formed a human chain over 7 kilometers long at an open cast mine owned by RWE in Garzweiler, western Germany to protest against environmental damage caused by brown coal.

MINING.com reported last fall that Germany is likely to miss its 2022 climate targets and greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, as the country’s use of coal continues to increase.

In 2013 the share of electricity generated from coal in Europe’s biggest economy hit the highest in 24 years. The country also opened more coal-fired power plants in 2013 than any other time in the past 20 years as it moves towards a target set four years ago, which aims to have all nuclear power stations shut down by 2022. Meanwhile Germany's energy revolution – or “Energiewende”- aims to move the country farther towards renewables but it has come at a high price. According to Bloomberg, as of September 2014 Energiewende has added more than $134 billion (100 billion euros) to the power bills of households, shop owners and small factories.