EU coal phase-out needs speeding up to hit climate goals

EU coal generation needs to be phased out faster if the Paris Agreement targets are to be achieved. That’s according to a new report from Climate Analytics, which illustrates the scale […]

Register now!

By Jonny Bairstow

EU coal generation needs to be phased out faster if the Paris Agreement targets are to be achieved.

That’s according to a new report from Climate Analytics, which illustrates the scale of the task at hand to decarbonise Europe’s energy sector.

It also highlights the disparity between different EU Member States with regards to cutting out coal capacity and incentivising new, clean forms of power.

For instance, Germany and Poland are home to 51% of the EU’s coal-fired power plants and responsible for 54% of coal emissions. This is a stark contrast with seven other nations in the region now using no coal at all.

Several countries, including Greece and Poland, are still planning or building new coal installations, while others such as the UK, Finland and France plan to close down all their sites within 10 to 15 years.

The report judges although the role of coal is decreasing overall, the transition needs to happen faster. The group has calculated an emissions budget of 6.5 billion tons of Carbon Dioxide by 2050 is needed.

It concludes if coal plants continue operating as they are, this emissions budget will be exceeded by around 85%.

Dr Michiel Schaeffer, Climate Analytics Science Director, said: “Not only would existing coal plants exceed the EU’s emissions budget but the 11 planned and announced plants would raise EU emissions to almost twice the levels required to keep warming to the Paris Agreement’s long term temperature goal.”

It predicts that to achieve the Paris Agreement target, 25% of existing plants need to be closed by 2020, with a further 47% going offline by 2025. The group believes this would result in many investors losing money.

Emissions from power generation in Europe fell 4.5% last year, primarily due to a “huge switch” from coal to gas production.