Just five years on from the historic UN Paris Climate Agreement, half of Europe’s 324 coal power plants have either already closed or pledged to shut down before 2030. The halfway milestone was reached this Monday, when the West Burton coal power plant’s retirement by 2022 was announced by the British energy company EDF. All Europe’s coal plants must close before 2030 in order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

Coal has been in sharp decline in Europe since 2012 [1]. Thirteen countries in Europe are coal free and eleven more have adopted decisions to phase out coal before 2030. Even in coal reliant countries like Greece – whose share of lignite in the energy mix has decreased from around 50% to 20% in the last five years – the coal end date has been advanced from 2028 to 2023. Hungary is another Eastern European country whose coal phase out date has recently been moved forward by five years than originally announced, in 2025 respectively, instead of 2030.

This forward thinking approach is something Western Balkan countries should be inspired by. So far, it has only been picked up in North Macedonia, which is the first Western Balkan country [3] planning to phase out coal by 2030. Still, in the last 18 months, North Macedonia (Oslomej reconstruction), Montenegro (Pljevlja II) and Kosovo (Kosova e Re) have dropped their new coal power projects, creating a perfect momentum to steer towards sustainable energy transition.

“In November of last year, the leaders of the Western Balkans countries signed the Declaration on the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans [4], committing to economy wide decarbonisation by 2050, in line with the upcoming EU Climate Law. This means all plans for new coal projects should stop, while the countries in the region build on appropriate policies to enable a just societal transformation towards a healthy and clean future. Such a sustainable energy transition pathway is also in line with their EU accession ambition.” said Viktor Berishaj Southeast Europe Climate and Energy Policy Coordinator, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe.

“We are in the endgame for the coal industry in Europe. After years of unrelenting decline, half of Europe’s coal fleet is history. Governments, energy companies and financial institutions must now plan for a 2030 or earlier coal exit, end all funding flows to coal and fossil gas, and instead, direct their support to sustainable renewables, and the just transition of impacted communities. The coming five years will then see off most remaining plants,” said Kathrin Gutmann, Europe Beyond Coal campaign director.

NOTE: This PR was adapted with focus on Western Balkans. For Europe Beyond Coal PR and analysis of closing down of coal plants in Europe and globally please go here.

Press release in Macedonian: EBC Press Release closing down 50% of coalplants_mkd

Press release in Serbian: EBC istorija zatvaranja 50% termoelektrana_srb

Fact sheet in Serbian: EBC fact sheet 50% moment_srb.docx

Media briefing in Serbian:  EBC istorija zatvaranja 50% termoelektrana_srb