On Friday afternoon, German Minister Sigmar Gabriel stated that a decision on the proposed coal levy would be postponed until a review is conducted into the potential for job losses.

In a letter to unions, he stated, “We need certainty about the numbers and consequences. Nothing will be decided prior to that.”

“Should this in fact confirm the misgivings expressed by IG BCE and Verdi of an industry meltdown with a considerable loss of jobs, then the economy ministry will of course change its proposals to achieve its climate targets,” he added.

The government is considering policy designed at curbing more emissions, in response to fears that the country may not meet its 40 per cent emission reduction target by 2020.

The decision is said to be impacting on Vattenfall’s ability to sell its brown coal assets in Germany.