Munich CSU and SPD overturn 2022 coal referendum result

‘We take the referendum result very seriously,’ said Munich SPD politician Simone Burger, shortly after helping the city to ignore that same referendum result. To be honest, it has increasingly looked likely that the city council would overturn the result to close Munich’s coal-fired power station by 2022 – according to the economic committee, because it was unfeasible to do so.

Keep going until 2028? Unlikely. (image Renardo la vulpo:,_6.jpeg)

Keep going until 2028? Unlikely. (image Renardo la vulpo:,_6.jpeg)

The 2017 referendum result (60.2% voted for it) (Ger) had a deadline to be acted upon by the city after one year, meaning city politicians had an easy way out of what would have been a huge challenge, say the committee, of coming up with power of equal capacity. The Federal Network Agency, a national regulator, apparently, would have provided legal support to the decision.

Green politicians are furious, of course, and dispute the committee’s finding, insisting that sufficient power could have been found by 2022. ÖDP council member Tobias Ruff is quoted in the SZ (Ger) as questioning the committee’s findings. Others questioned whether, since the referendum, there had been the will to genuinely explore the possibilities of closing the energy gap.

Dominik Krause – of the Greens – is quoted on the party’s website as describing the decision as a ‘disregard for the will of the people’ (Ger). He says a plan to take the power plant out of operation ‘and used only in emergencies’ would ‘meet the legal requirements of the Federal Network Agency’.

The reality is that the coal-fired power station will continue to be used until 2028, by when the city says renewables, including geothermal energy, will have sufficiently closed the gap. The SZ reports that ‘750,000 tons of hard coal are burned every year’, which is planned to drop to 200,000 a year by the closure year.

But there is also another reality: because of what we know about the ongoing and worsening climate emergency, it seems inconceivable that Munich will still have a coal-fired power station so far into the 2020s.

This, then, isn’t the end of the story. There will be a few more twists and turns before history closes on Munich and coal-fired energy.