Coal

Coal Phase Out

 

Burning coal is one of the main drivers of climate change because coal is one of the most greenhouse gas intensive fuels (see for example here).

Despite this over 40% of world electricity is still generated from coal. Globally, coal causes over 12 Giga tons of CO2 per year and accounts for about 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions. In 2014, 18% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions came from burning coal.

Coal’s overall human and ecological toll is truly staggering. Mining and burning coal causes sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, dust particles and mercury emissions and contaminates soil, air and water, see Report: Europe's Dark Cloud. For example, the total cost of coal use on Chinese society has been estimated at more than 7% of GDP, considering that ecological and health costs are included.

But the good news is: We do not need coal.

We have affordable renewable energy. We can save energy. We can use energy more wisely (e.g. by demand-side management). And we are already building modern, flexible, decentralized, community-based, environmentally-friendly energy systems that can serve our energy needs on site.

Phasing out coal is the low-hanging fruit when it comes to scaling up emission reductions in Europe in line with the Paris Agreement. We therefore need to make this a priority in every European country.

But the speed at which coal plants are closed down is not at all sufficient. The rate at which coal emissions must fall every year needs to triple to 8% in order to be in line with keeping global average temperature rise below 2 degrees (see Report: End of an era). With the agreement in Paris to pursue efforts to keep temperature rise to 1.5 degrees this needs to be scaled up even more.

The rush of building new coal-fired power plants in the EU is over (with some notable exceptions such as Poland) and has moved to South East Europe and Turkey. If we are to comply with what was agreed in Paris we cannot afford to build any of these proposed coal plants. South East European countries and Turkey need to turn their back on new coal projects now and start exploring the alternatives.

The CAN Europe Secretariat works with its members and fellow NGO networks:

  • to prevent the construction of new coal power plants, opening of new mines and building of coal transport infrastructure,
  • to campaign for a complete and rapid phase-out of coal in Europe and policy instruments and targets to achieve that,
  • to advocate for an end to any form of public or private funding of coal originating in Europe and for an immediate phase-out of direct and indirect subsidies to coal,
  • to support local communities to get out of coal and build instead decentralized, community-based renewable energy systems, to secure a just transition for people residing in coal mining dependent regions.

 

CAN Europe strongly supports the phase out of coal by both hosting the ‘Europe Beyond Coal’ campaign secretariat and by integrating the coal debate in our regular policy work as well as by supporting our members and allies in Turkey and the Western Balkans through the CAN Europe’s coal team.

 

Learn more

Dark Cloud report image
Report: Europe's Dark Cloud: Coal-burning EU countries make their neighbours sick

This report by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, the WWF European Policy Office and Sandbag presents an analysis of cross-border health impacts of all EU coal power plants. Coal pollution and its health impacts travel far beyond borders, and a full coal phase-out in the EU would bring enormous benefits for all citizens across the continent. Read More

ISLI GELECEK KY 0146
No new coal projects!

Most of the new coal plants under construction or recently commissioned were given their construction permits before 2008. Since then, a majority of plans to build new coal power stations have in fact been shelved. Read More

Coal Free Europe
A coal-free Europe

The EU 28 is still heavily reliant on coal. In 2013, the share of electricity from hard coal and lignite was at 26% (Source: EEA), produced in the region’s 280 operational coal power stations. Read More

eu coalmap
CAN Europe's interactive Coal Map of Europe

CAN Europe's interactive Coal Map of Europe gives an overview of the role of coal in our electricity system. Read More

Publications
Useful Coal Resouces

Here you find a range of useful external coal resources. Read More

Contact

JOANNA

Joanna Flisowska
Coal Policy Coordinator
joanna / at / caneurope.org
Based in Katowice, Poland

 

DRAGANA 

Dragana Mileusnic
Energy Policy Coordinator for Southeast Europe
dragana /at/ caneurope.org

+32 2894 4672 

 

ELIF

Elif Gündüzyeli
Turkey Climate and Energy Policy Coordinator
elif /at/ caneurope.org
Based in Istanbul, Turkey

Latest Publications on Coal Phase Out

  • EU governments’ positions would stifle renewable energy revolution

    Today EU Energy Ministers have adopted their positions on four legislative proposals under the Clean Energy Package, which will guide the EU’s energy transition in the coming decade and beyond. Turning their backs on the Paris Agreement, the ministers opted for a feeble renewable energy target, lax rules for ensuring that all EU countries contribute to the energy transition and massive coal subsidies in the EU’s power market.
  • Balkan coal power costing lives, urgent action is needed

    More than 60,000 premature deaths in Europe could be prevented over the next decade if urgent action is taken on air pollution from Europe’s dirtiest coal-fired power plants, write Dragana Mileusnić and Ioana Ciuta.
  • Reducing air pollution from coal power plants in the Western Balkans would save thousands of lives annually

    Swift and significant emission cuts by Europe’s top polluters under new rules would boost health and reduce healthcare costs.
  • CAN Europe letter ahead of the Energy Council on 18 December

    For Energy Council on 18 December Brussels, 13 December 2017 Dear Minister, Ahead of Energy Council on Monday 18 December, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe would like to call on you to adopt an ambitious position on the Market Design Initiative, the Renewable Energy Directive, and the Governance of the Energy Union Regulation. Current proposals in the Estonian Presidency compromise texts for these files are not at all consistent with the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement and would endanger the transition to a clean, efficient and just energy system. Accelerating this transition will bring benefits to European citizens, offering them new rights and economic opportunities, delivering a safer climate, warm homes, clean air, and local green jobs. In order to maximise the potential social, economic and climate benefits from this legislation, the Council needs to raise their level of ambition and substantially improve on key elements. We urge you to support the priorities set out in the Annex to the email below. The Council now has the opportunity to improve its position in line with these priorities at the Energy Council meeting on 18 December. We urge you to include these points during the discussions. Yours sincerely, Wendel Trio Director, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe   Annex: Priorities for Clean Energy Package files, Energy Council 18 Dec  Market Design Initiative A 550gCO2/kWh eligibility criterion for participation in capacity mechanisms Capacity mechanisms must be used only as a last resort and temporary solution. Their introduction should be conditional on the outcomes of robust Europe-wide resource adequacy assessments performed at the regional level. A 550gCO2/kWh eligibility criterion for participation in capacity mechanisms should be used to exclude the most carbon-intense plants from capacity payments.The latest compromise text from the Presidency removes the criterion of 550gCO2/kWh for existing plants, and further delays its introduction for new plants. This would mean public money would be diverted to coal plants, extending their lifetime and hampering the clean energy transition - a clear contradiction to Paris Agreement commitments. The Council must maintain the 550gCO2/kW criterion for all new and existing plants, and ensure it applies to all plants immediately after the regulation comes into force. Priority dispatch for renewable energy The Estonian Presidency proposals essentially remove the right for Member States to grant priority dispatch to new renewable projects from 2021, with only very limited exemptions and even lower thresholds than in the already restrictive Commission proposal. The Council needs to improve its position by securing priority dispatch not only for existing renewable energy capacity, but also new projects. Priority dispatch is needed to correct for market distortions which favour fossil fuel energy sources through subsidies and unpriced externalities. In particular, priority dispatch is essential for smaller installations, often community energy projects, and therefore for public confidence in the energy transition.  At the very least, the exemptions thresholds should be reverted back to those in the Commission proposal. Revised Renewable Energy Directive A binding target of at least 45% for 2030 A target of at least 45% is needed to accelerate renewables deployment in line with the Paris Agreement and ensure additional social, economic and health benefits. The current Council position of at least 27% was agreed upon before the successful outcome of the Paris Climate Conference and follows a Commission proposal based on outdated and overpriced cost assumptions for wind and solar. Such a low target would drastically slow down current levels of renewable energy deployment. The Council now needs to revise this target upwards. The ITRE Committee of the European Parliament recently supported a target of ‘at least 35%’. Binding national targets (Article 3) Binding national targets should be maintained as the best proven way to ensure Member States collectively achieve the EU renewables target, to cement investor confidence, to ensure balanced renewables deployment across the EU and to reduce capital costs for all Member States. Stronger definitions / rights for energy citizens and communities (Articles 2, 21 & 22) EU-level definitions of ‘renewable self-consumers’ and renewable energy communities should be supported. Renewable self-consumers should receive remuneration for electricity fed into the grid which also reflects its value to the environment and society. This will strengthen public support for the transition. National support schemes as a driver for renewable deployment (Article 4) The Council should cement its position behind national support schemes.This would allow Member States to enact technology-specific tenders in ways that are tailored to local conditions and needs - which is good for diversity of supply and energy security - and provide specific support for small-scale installations and demonstration projects. Support only sustainable & low carbon bioenergy (Articles 3, 7, 25, 26, 28 & annex IX) It is crucial that the revised Renewable Energy Directive includes stringent sustainability criteria for the use of bioenergy. The revised Directive should phase out all food and feed based biofuels by 2030, and should not include a renewable energy target for the transport sector. It should not support the use of whole trees for bioenergy production and the use of biomass for electricity production should only be supported when applying highly efficient cogeneration technology. Governance of the Energy Union Regulation Linear trajectories Planning on the basis of linear trajectories for the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency between 2021 and 2030 will ensure that both Member States and the EU as a whole will be able to assess whether they are on track to meet their 2030 targets, and if necessary to take corrective action in due time. It is also a necessary provision for investors to feel confident that renewables will grow within their home market, hence giving them certainty to invest. We therefore urge you to support a requirement for Member States to follow linear trajectories between 2021-2030, and ensure the trajectories are binding. As a second best option, the Council should agree on binding biannual milestones for the Commission to use to track progress. Legally binding NECP templates The European Court of Auditors recently published a landscape review of the state of play of EU climate and energy policy and they concluded that the lack of a coherent and robust climate and energy governance system is the main challenge Europe is currently facing in implementing its policy obligations. The commitment of Member States to produce one integrated plan (NECP) and regularly improve it is a good step in the right direction to ensure the transition is properly managed, and a sustainable energy future for Europe is successfully delivered. The NECPs will also be industry’s reference documents for making business: NECPs need to provide the same, standardised and reliable information for all Member States in order to ensure accountability and comparability. Further, revised NECPs should reflect an increase in ambition, as required by the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. To this end, we urge you to to safeguard a binding template, with sufficient level of detail for NECPs. Better guidance on long term provisions To comply with the long term goals of the Paris Agreement, global fossil fuel emissions need to be phased out and should be replaced by 100% renewable energy by 2050 at the latest. The long term climate and energy strategies (Article 14 of the regulation) must be designed to contribute to delivering on the long term objectives of the Paris Agreement. Coherence between the short term plans (NECPs) and ambitious long term strategies must be ensured. The long term climate and energy strategies should also be developed within the same time frame as the NECPs. A binding template for the long term strategies should accompany the binding template for the NECPs. This would help to put in place enabling conditions for the deeper structural changes needed in the economy and energy system to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement. The amendment adopted in the European Parliament on this matter gives good guidance on this.
See All: Coal Phase Out