German voters would prefer a more ambitious timeline to phase out coal

Nature Energy


While a government commission recently proposed to phase out coal in Germany by 2038, voters would prefer a phase-out by 2025. Policymakers may underestimate public willingness to support an expedited transition away from high-carbon sources of energy.

Messages for policy

  • A more ambitious timeline for phasing out coal would be better aligned with voters’ preferences in Germany.
  • Although voters are willing to incur additional costs for a phase-out by 2025, every €10 increase in annual household cost decreases voter support by about seven percentage points.
  • In coal-producing regions, creating new jobs in low-carbon industries is important to voters and can outweigh concerns about job losses.
  • In the area of the energy transition, systematic incorporation of the views of the population into future government commission recommendations could lead to more publically acceptable policies.
  • Raising awareness for the scientific consensus on climate change could foster public acceptance of ambitious climate policies.


University of St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland