Despite its claim of being a leader in the fight against climate change, the European Union still has around 280 coal power plants, operating in 22 different EU member states. The majority of these plants are more than 30 years old, meaning they are inefficient, polluting and outdated. Burning coal caused 17% of greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union in 2014. Still, European countries continue to invest tens of billions into the ailing industry.
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe exposes these shocking and disturbing facts on the coal business in the online Coal Map of Europe (www.coalmap.eu) which was launched today. Based on extensive research of Europe’s intransparent coal fleet and using a range of public data sources, CAN Europe has calculated key figures on the coal industry. The NGO has visualised the most crucial aspects of the story of coal power in eight different maps.
For the first time, now there is a full and comprehensive overview of the fleet of existing and planned coal power plants, that also displays key information on pollution and health impacts from burning coal. The Coal Map also highlights how governments are still heavily involved in this industry through state-owned companies as well as by providing enormous subsidies.
Citizens resisting coal
The Coal Map introduces fifteen reports of local and national fights against coal power plants and mines. From Scotland to Turkey, citizens and NGOs are tied in lengthy legal battles to get rid of coal. And not without success: in recent years, the majority of new coal project proposals have been canceled.
The local fight is quickly turning into a pan-European story against coal. In Italy an operating power plant was shut down on court orders in March 2014, on the basis of manslaughter. Legal experts in the Czech Republic managed to link the fate of the islands of Micronesia to upgrading a power plant in the country. In Germany, the debate on phasing out coal is no longer about if, but about when and how. Norway’s parliament decided that the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth fund is to divest from several coal businesses across the world, after months of international protests.
‘European countries are still addicted to coal for the production of electricity, but opportunities for phasing out coal altogether have never been better,’ says Kathrin Gutmann, Coal Policy Coordinator at CAN Europe. ‘Renewables are booming and energy demand is going down, so utilities are already losing billions of euros a year on their coal assets. Therefore we need more governments to act now and get rid of coal. Coal really is the low-hanging fruit in the fight against climate change. If the EU wants to be a leader in the international climate negotiatons, then coal will have to go.’
Kathrin Gutmann, CAN Europe Coal Policy Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile: +32 476 79 2940
Joop Hazenberg, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator, email@example.com, Mobile: +32 496 70 36 38
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s largest coalition working on climate and energy issues. With over 120 member organisations in more than 30 European countries, CAN Europe works to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable energy and environment policy in Europe. CAN Europe represents 44 million citizens who support the work of its members.