Germany's goal to lower carbon-dioxide emissions 40 percent by 2020 is significantly more ambitious than that of Europe as a whole or the U.S.
But there's another, troubling side to the German story: The country still gets 40 percent of its energy from coal, a bigger share than most other European countries.
This dependence on coal is partly a side effect of Germany's abandonment of emissions-free nuclear power and partly foot-dragging on the part of a government wary of alienating voters in German coal country.
German unemployment is at a record low, and thousands of new jobs have opened in renewable energy -- making this a good time to help affected coal miners and coal-plant workers move into other kinds of work.
Looking ahead, the best way to ensure that coal-fired electricity plants keep closing is a rising price of carbon.