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Piles of coal at a dry bulk terminal of German Rheinberg-Orsoy harbour along the Rhine in Rheinberg near Duisburg, Germany, on Wednesday. – Reuterspix

Germany will need to use the full four-month phase-out period to implement a ban on Russian coal under European Union (EU) sanctions, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.

The EU’s ambassadors agreed a fifth sanctions package on Russia, including a coal embargo, with a 120-day wind-down period to give EU member states time to find alternative suppliers.

“We will need to use this period,” Scholz told a news conference following a meeting with the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states.

“If it’s faster, that’s good. But we will need some time, and the companies will need it as well, though they have been looking for new suppliers for a while already,” he added.

A German economy ministry report prepared for parliament warned earlier this week that the country would likely have to switch off some of its power plants if it ended Russian coal imports straight away.

An immediate ban on Russian coal imports would lead to “coal shortages after a few weeks”, it said.

In Tokyo, Jiji Press reported today that the Japanese government is considering restrictions on the import of Russian coal as part of sanctions in the area of energy against the country.