Draft energy and climate plans indicate EU member states are sticking with coal

In 2018, Europe’s coal plants released a total of 625 million tonnes of CO2. This accounts for nearly 15% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, a similar amount to all road transport (~21%).

EU governments had until the end of 2018 to submit a 10-year plan to the European Commission on how they will meet their energy and climate commitments. These so-called ‘National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs)’ are meant to contain the targets, policies and measures governments will put in place to support the shift to a low carbon and resilient economy – in line with commitments they made under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Closing coal power plants would make a significant contribution to reducing emissions and protecting the climate – but what do national governments’ draft NECPs say on coal power?

Together with Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Sandbag sifted through the draft NECPs to answer that question. The results are published in a new report titled Just Transition or Just Talk?

Out of the 21 member states still using coal for electricity generation, just eight have a clear commitment to phase out coal over the NECP period (2021-2030).

Of the remaining member states, a large proportion plan little or no transition away from coal over the next decade.

All in all, the draft NECPs suggest there will still be 60 GW of installed coal capacity in the EU in 2030, a fall of only 58% vs. the current levels (143 GW).

The analysis also revealed that many of the member states that plan to stick with coal are doing so despite benefiting from various EU energy transition support schemes – including the European Commission’s Coal Regions in Transition Platform.

With this support failing to result in significant planned declines in coal capacity, it looks like coal-reliant member states are taking the EU for a ride.

Joanna Flisowska, Coal Policy Coordinator at CAN Europe said:

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.”

Altogether, Just Transition or Just Talk? reveals that too few member states have grasped the speed and scale of the action needed to transform their energy systems over the next decade.


A version of this article was originally published on the PlanUp website. PlanUp is coalition of organisations tracking the development of National Energy & Climate Plans in five EU Member States: Spain, Italy, Poland, Romania and Hungary.