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

  • Climate Change Performance Index 2018: High commitment to Paris - insufficient action at home

    Global energy transition taking up speed - but no country is doing enough Countries have to strengthen targets and implementation Sweden, Lithuania, Morocco and Norway leading the table - USA in free fall After a decade of rapid growth, we see a strong decrease in the growth rates of global CO2 emissions over the past years, sending signals for a decarbonisation of the global energy system. The Climate Change Performance Index 2018 (CCPI) confirms these developments in Greenhouse-Gas-emissions (GHG), renewable energies and energy use for some countries but also still clearly shows a current general lack of ambitious targets and sufficient implementation for a Paris-compatible pathway. Jan Burck, co-author of the CCPI at Germanwatch, comments: "We see a strong commitment to the global climate targets of the Paris Agreement in international climate diplomacy. The countries now have to deliver specific measures breaking down their commitments to a sectoral level." "We continue to see very positive developments regarding renewables and energy efficiency", Stephan Singer from the Climate Action Network (CAN) and co-publisher of the CCPI, adds. "The data show encouraging growth in renewable energy, ever cheaper prices for solar and wind energy, and successes in saving energy in many countries. This was responsible for stabilising global energy CO2 emissions in the last three years. But progress is achieved much too slow for a fully renewable energy based world economy in a few decades, because growing oil and gas consumption is higher than the welcomed reduction in coal use”. Key results of the CCPI 2018 Since no country is on a Paris-compatible path yet, the top three of the CCPI 2018 are still unoccupied. “The gap in mid- and long-term ambition of the evaluated countries is still too high. In terms of GHG emissions, we see better 2030 targets in countries like Sweden, Norway, or India; comparably good targets for renewable energy, we see in for example Italy, Norway, Sweden or New Zealand. No country has a particularly outstanding energy efficiency target. Korea, Saudi Arabia, and the United States generally have to drastically raise their 2030 ambition", Prof. Niklas Höhne from the NewClimate Institute, co-author of the CCPI, explains. With comparably positive developments in renewables and per capita emissions, Sweden ranks 4th in this year's CCPI - following the empty top three. A relatively low emissions level and a very high trend in renewable energy are reasons for Lithuania's 5th rank. Profiting from a good policy evaluation and relatively high 2030 targets, Morocco lands on position six, followed by Norway. India ranks 14th with still low levels of per capita emissions and energy use.  China however, with its high emissions and a growing energy use over the past five years, still ranks 41st. But better placements in the years ahead can be expected, as national experts have highlighted that the country has implemented policies to phase out coal capacity as well as promoting renewables and and electric mobility. Germany (rank 22), the co-host country for Fiji's COP 23 Presidency, lands in the midfield of the CCPI 2018. The country has put a lot of effort into international climate diplomacy and globally committing to climate action. “Germany's mid- and long-term targets are relatively strong but the last government failed on delivering concreate measures to effectively reduce emissions domestically. Germany shows a relatively good development of renewable energy in the electricity sector but the country is not at all on track to meet its 2020 target. It is absolutely crucial that the currently ongoing coalition negotiations come to an agreement on a coal phase out and getting a transition in the transport sector started”, Burck says. Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, comments on the performance of the EU, which was evaluated in the CCPI 2018 for the first time: "The report reveals that the EU vows commitment to the Paris Agreement, but avoids real climate action at home. The EU needs to translate words into action and commit to deeper emission cuts than currently foreseen. Current discussions on the new clean energy policies and the EU budget offer excellent opportunities to increase ambition of the bloc’s climate action." Having declared its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and dismantled major climate legislation of the previous government, the USA (rank 56) finds itself in the bottom five of the ranking. Besides, a very low policy evaluation, the country’s emissions level and energy use are considerably too high to be in line with a well-below 2°C pathway. The bottom three of the index is formed by Korea (rank 58), Iran (rank 59) and Saudi Arabia (rank 60), all of which are showing hardly any progress or ambition in reducing its emissions and energy use. About the Climate Change Performance Index 2018, developed by Germanwatch and the NewClimate Institute: The Climate Change Performance Index by Germanwatch and the NewClimate Institute is a ranking of the 56 countries and the EU, together responsible for about 90% of global GHG emissions. The methodology was improved in for the 2018 edition. The four categories examined are: emissions (40%), renewable energy (20%), energy use (20%) and climate policy (20%). The latter is based on expert assessments by NGOs and think tanks from the respective countries. One of the major achievements is that the CCPI now also evaluates to what extent the respective countries are taking adequate action within the categories emissions, renewables and energy use to being on track towards the global Paris-goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C. For more information, the ranking and detailed information about country performances, please see: www.climate-change-performance-index.org  
  • EU fails to deliver on Paris Agreement by setting its carbon market for another decade of failure

    Today the EU institutions reached an agreement on the redesign of one of the bloc’s key climate policies, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
  • Joint NGO statement on the ETS revision

    Being serious about the Paris Agreement:Stop the ETS funding coal, Start a meaningful carbon price This Agreement [...] aims to [...] making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. Paris Agreement, Article 2(1)c We, the undersigned, urgently appeal to Representatives of European Parliament, Council and the European Commission to ensure that European power and industry are put on the right track to rapidly and cost-effectively reduce their carbon emissions. The European Union was instrumental in designing the Paris Agreement. Now it must implement it. On 8th November, the aforementioned decision-makers will discuss final changes to the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) for the post-2020 period. It is vital that these changes enable the ETS to help deliver the Paris commitments. The recently published UNEP report underlines the urgency to act now in order to ensure that the 1.5°C target remains attainable [1]. One important discussion topic will be the design of the ETS funds. It is crucial that ETS funds stop subsidizing coal plants. We are glad to see that the European Parliament as well as seven Member States [2] have called for ending this misuse of funds. To reach the “well below two degrees” goal agreed at Paris, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) modelling shows that unabated coal in Europe must fall to zero by 2030: This means that the ETS must no longer fund this obsolete and polluting technology and needs to accelerate a socially just transition instead. The second crucial topic is how to ensure a meaningful carbon price that drives decarbonisation throughout the 2020s and beyond. This can only happen if the cap on the ETS emissions continues to tighten in line with the Paris climate goals, and is adjusted downwards to account for progress. Without this change, the EU carbon market will remain on an inadequate decarbonisation trajectory and risks another decade of irrelevance, leaving the EU lagging behind on green growth and innovation. Fundamentally, the EU ETS must ensure a meaningful carbon price in line with the Paris climate goals, while at the same time stop subsidizing high-carbon intensity technologies such as coal. We count on your support. Kind regards, Carbon Market WatchCEE Bankwatch NetworkCenter for Transport and EnergyChange PartnershipClimate Action Network (CAN) EuropeEfdeN RomaniaInternational Young NaturefriendsSandbagWWF EPOYoung European Federalists11.11.11 Notes: [1] Under current trends, it is expected that in 2030 global efforts to remain on a 1.5°C pathway are 16 to 19 GtCO2 off track. UNEP (2017). The Emissions Gap Report 2017. Available here. [2] Non-paper by Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK Joint NGO statement on the ETS revision
  • Poland wins Fossil of the Day Award at the Bonn climate summit

    On the second day of this year’s UN climate summit in Bonn, Poland won the second place of the shameful Fossil of the Day Award. The dubious award was handed down to Poland, the host of the next UN climate summit in 2018, for working day and night to turn the EU’s carbon market into potentially the largest coal subsidy scheme in history.
See All: Coal Phase Out