Challenge to EU leaders: Time to move Europe Beyond Coal

Energy transition

Health, environment and climate groups are calling on the European Union to hasten the move away from coal and other fossil fuels and towards clean renewable energy. As ‘Europe Beyond Coal’ launches, Brussels-based groups have set the EU five challenges to help Europe become coal-free by 2030.

As the world’s nations convene in Bonn for the ‘COP23’ climate conference, civil society groups are today launching Europe Beyond Coal, an international campaign to combat the worsening impacts of climate change and air pollution by accelerating the move away from coal and towards clean, renewable energy. [1]

Underscoring the need for this urgent shift, new health impact modelling released by the campaign shows that in 2015 the EU’s coal fleet alone was responsible for an estimated 19,500 premature deaths and 10,000 cases of chronic bronchitis in adults. The health costs of coal are equally staggering: up to €54 billion in the same one-year period.

With the launch of the campaign, Europe Beyond Coal partners have challenged the EU to take five actions to bring an end to Europe’s most harmful fuel. [2]

  1. Stop coal subsidies
    // including by ending state aid for operating mines and stopping coal from receiving capacity payments.
  2. Fix the Emission Trading System
    // by cutting surplus pollution permits and ensuring modernisation payments don’t fund coal.
  3. Support the Just Transition
    // for affected communities and regions to move away from coal and into safe and sustainable employment.
  4. Stop wasting energy and commit to 100% renewables
    // by raising targets for energy efficiency and renewables so that coal plants can close even sooner.
  5. Enforce and strengthen EU protections on air quality
    // by taking action to ensure countries meet their commitments to reduce air pollution, and updating air quality limits.

More details about the five challenges can be found in the joint paper ‘Five EU actions to take Europe Beyond Coal’ published today. [2]



Darek Urbaniak, Senior Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office:
“Coal is the energy source of the past. Europe’s future will be built with renewables and energy efficiency, which are not only cleaner but also cheaper.

Our leaders now have no more excuses to continue to fuel coal. Instead, they must speed up the development of a progressive emissions performance standard for both existing and new power generation plants that will meaningfully tackle CO2 pollution from coal and other fossil fuels.

For a successful just and sustainable transition it is of the utmost importance to support coal regions and communities, to ensure that they are taken along on the road towards a zero-emissions economy.”

Christian Schaible, Industrial Production Policy Manager at the European Environmental Bureau:
“The end of coal is coming far faster than many expected and governments, businesses and communities must be prepared. The EU has a crucial role to play in helping Europe move beyond coal. This needs to happen in a way that is fair to affected communities but at a speed that is fair to future generations – and for them, action really can’t be quick enough.”

Genon K. Jensen, Executive Director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL):
“Coal power generation fuels rising rates of heart and lung disease, cancer, stroke, asthma and even diabetes, some of the most pressing health challenges of our times. Moving beyond coal, in Europe and worldwide, is urgently needed to reduce an enormous current and future health burden. Moving beyond coal will bring substantial health benefits and save billions of Euros in healthcare costs.”

James Thornton, CEO at ClientEarth:
“Governments support coal in many different, often hidden ways – from lax pollution enforcement to subsidies and tax breaks. All of these can be challenged by improving the law – or enforcing it in court. The law is always most effective when used in partnership with others and we’ll be doing just that, working across countries to take Europe truly beyond coal.”

Joanna Flisowska, Coal Policy Coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe:
“Standing up for the Paris Agreement means that EU has to step up its game and go further and faster. It requires not only more ambitious climate and energy targets but most of all commitment to move away from all fossil fuels starting with a coal phase out as the most urgent and imperative first step.

The full and just transition away from coal offers a fair and steadfast way towards a more sustainable, prosperous and climate-safe future for everyone.

The EU likes to portray itself as a climate leader. But now it’s the time to walk the walk. Subsidies for coal and other fossil fuels have to end immediately while clean, sustainable and just transition away from coal needs to be catalyzed in the EU, as well as the rest of Europe.”

Notes to editors:

[1] Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe), Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), ClientEarth, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and WWF are part of Europe Beyond Coal, a collective campaign to make Europe’s energy systems coal-free by 2030.

The campaign launched today: read the international PR here

Europe Beyond Coal calls on European governments, cities, companies, banks and investors to cement their plans to move out of coal before the 2018 international climate meeting in Katowice, Poland.

Since 2016, Europe Beyond Coal groups have helped retire 16 coal plants across Europe, and 39 more are to close, with the governments of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Finland, France, Portugal and Italy all committing these countries to being coal-free by 2030 at the latest. The campaign is focusing its efforts on turning these government coal phaseout announcements into actions, and hastening the closure of Europe’s 293 remaining plants.

Concrete plans are particularly pertinent for countries like Germany, whose coal use is making it the worst greenhouse gas polluter in Europe and preventing it from meeting its climate objectives. According to new health impact modelling, Germany’s coal plants were responsible for an estimated 3,800 premature deaths and up to €10.5 billion in health costs inside and outside its borders in 2015.

[2] You can read about the five challenges in more detail in our joint background policy paper: ‘Five EU actions to take Europe Beyond Coal’.


Anton Lazarus, Communications Officer, European Environmental Bureau (EEB),, +322 790 88 18

Audrey Gueudet, Senior communications and media Officer, WWF European Policy Office,, +32494032027

Elke Zander, Communications and Media Coordinator, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL),, +32 2 234 36 47

Bianca Vergnaud, Communications Officer, ClientEarth,

Joanna Flisowska, Coal Policy Coordinator, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe,, +48 698 693 170


Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s largest coalition working on climate and energy issues. With over 140 member organisations in more than 30 European countries – representing over 44 million citizens – CAN Europe works to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable climate and energy policy in Europe.


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