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“Just transition or just talk?”

New report shows some EU Member States intent on burning coal for electricity beyond 2030 whilst banking on EU funding for a just energy transition.

A new report by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe and Sandbag reveals Member States are receiving EU energy transition support but not committing to phase-out coal. The draft National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) of 21 EU Member States which still use coal for electricity generation show that only eight are committed to phasing out coal by 2030. Yet, Member States with no plans to move away from coal are benefiting from various EU schemes intended to support the energy transition away from coal. Still, Member States are asking for more energy transition funding, – finds a new report entitled pdf “Just transition or just talk?” (3.20 MB)

The report published today analyses the prospects for coal in the draft NECPs – a key tool of the EU’s Governance Regulation that aims to ensure each Member State shares the effort in meeting the Union’s 2030 climate and energy targets. The European Commission will issue recommendations in June before the NECPs are finalised by the end of this year – now is the time for Member States to improve their plans.

To meet the commitments made under the Paris agreement, the EU should phase-out coal by 2030 (1). The report reveals that according to the draft NECPs, there would still be 60 GW of installed coal capacity in the EU in 2030, a reduction of only 58% compared to current levels (143 GW). Member States (with the exception of 7 Member States that do not use coal for power generation) were ranked according to their commitments and clarity of plans to phase-out coal.

  • 11 Member States do not plan to phase out coal by 2030, instead most of them show very little or no coal capacity decrease vs. 2019.
  • 8 Member States have a clear commitment to phase out coal over the NECP period (2021-2030).
  • 2 Member States will phase out coal – but not as an explicitly stated objective in their NECPs. 

Countries that intend to use the most coal in 2030 and therefore scored lowest in the ranking are: Poland, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Czechia. 

Most of the countries that plan little or no transition away from coal are doing so despite benefiting from various EU energy transition support schemes – including the European Commission’s “Coal Regions in Transition Platform” which specifically aims to assist coal regions in the move away from coal.

Joanna Flisowska, coal policy coordinator at CAN Europe commented: “The European Commission needs to hold governments to account on the quality of their NECPs. Climate laggards should not get a free pass. The EU needs to support the just energy transition in the coal regions informed by credible and ambitious commitments clearly articulated in the NECPs. A just energy transition away from coal cannot be “just talk” anymore.” 

Charles Moore, energy and policy analyst at Sandbag commented: “Coal-reliant Member States want to have their cake and eat it with just transition funding. The European Commission can only continue to support these Member States if they come up with realistic plans for moving away from coal.”

“What remains of the European coal fleet is inefficient, old and dirty. A credible NECP requires a plan for coal. Member states should use the process of developing their NECPs as an opportunity to outline a detailed path towards achieving a net-zero economy by 2050. A coal phase out by 2030 is the first step along this path.”

The report urges EU Member States to accelerate their coal phase out plans and move towards energy systems based on renewables. Additionally it calls upon the European Commission to ensure that the support provided for the just transition is based on credible and ambitious coal phase-out commitments by Member States. This will step up emissions reductions and help put the EU back on-track to meet the commitments of the Paris Agreement, while bringing numerous health, economic and environmental benefits.

(1) Climate Analytics: Implications of the Paris Agreement for coal use in the power sector. The referenced scenario has a more than 50% chance of remaining below 1.5°C by 2100. https://climateanalytics.org/media/climateanalytics-coalreport_nov2016_1.pdf


Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe 2019

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