In recent years, numerous countries have adopted carbon-neutrality targets and/or have made pledges to phase out coal. While such policy ambition should be applauded, it also raises various concerns, including how to ensure their implementation in the context of a just transition. Confronted by this question, in 2018 Germany formed a multi-stakeholder commission to negotiate its coal phase-out. After six months of meetings and deliberations, the German Coal Commission presented its final report, which included a target date for ending coal-fired generation as well as structural policy recommendations for impacted regions.
With this analysis, we aim to shed light on how the complex socio-economic challenge of phasing out coal can be achieved through a multi-stakeholder commission that can facilitate political consensus.This analysis showcases the German Coal Commission as an example of real-world practice, while touching on existing theories related to multi-stakeholder engagement. We have drawn from interviews with former German Coal Commission members, to present valuable lessons learned to an international audience. Multi-stakeholder engagement is not a “one size fits all” solution,and needs to be tailored to domestic conditions. However, we believe that Germany’s experiences can contribute to the coal phase-out debates taking place in other countries.