Wilderness Policy

Make Europe coal free by 2030

Several national governments have announced their intention to phase out use of coal. A total of 72.8 gigawatts of coal power capacity is located in countries which have announced they will phase out coal by 2030 or even earlier. In practice that means putting the coal plants in these countries on a pathway to closure. It is a part of the more complex fossil fuel phase-out process.

Fossil fuel phase-out is the gradual reduction of the fossil fuel use, finally to zero. Current efforts in fossil fuel phase-out involve replacing fossil fuels with alternative energy sources in sectors such as transport, heating and industry.

Official announcements

Official intention presented by European governments to phase out coal plants by 2030 corresponds to 40 % of Europe’s currently operational coal fleet (48 % in the EU). For example, Germany’s announcement to phase out coal by 2038 (or possibly 2035) means a further 17 gigawatts are set to close after 2030. This is just one example of phase-out announcements and decisions done in Europe.

Following an announcement, governments need to implement it, which needs to lead to confirmed closure dates and process leading away from coal. In addition, these actions need to be simultaneously in line with climate, environmental and health responsibilities, and address the needs of the affected workers, communities, and regions. Furthermore, it must also be in line with the UN Climate Agreement struck in Paris. According to it, Europe and OECD countries need to be coal-power-free by 2030 (or earlier, depending on the country). Clearly, governmental intentions are not ambitious enough at the moment to meet the Paris Agreement, as only 8 countries intend to close all the powerplants by 2030.

However, as of end of 2019, the some countries continue to build and finance new coal-fired power stations.

Germany starts up new coal power station

Energy company Uniper has announced that its highly controversial 1.1 GW coal power station Datteln 4 coal-powered plant in Germany will start operating in January 2020. However, that decision is just ignoring the proposal of Germany’s coal commission. Therefore, the decision is an embarrassing development for the German government, which after months of delays and negotiations over possible compensation payments for utilities has still not put the recommendations of its coal commission into law.

Uniper has long held that the German coal commission’s recommendation of a 2 038 total coal phase-out justifies the introduction of its 1.1 gigawatt, 1.5 billion euro plant, despite the commission’s explicit recommendation that no new coal power plants should go online.

The short update how particular European countries follow their commitment can be find here.

Fossil fuel energy affects the environment and health due to the emissions and impact of mining practices. Reducing fossil fuel usage helps protect your environment, health, wildlife, habitat, natural process and also Wilderness,

Vlado Vancura
European Wilderness Society Deputy Chairman

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