25% of Europe Quits Coal

Europe’s coal industry continues its downward spiral as a quarter of European Union countries have now closed their doors to the dirty energy source.

Belgium has become the latest country to shut down its last remaining coal-fired power station, Langerlo.

Europe’s coal industry continues its downward spiral as a quarter of European Union countries have now closed their doors to the dirty energy source. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Announced on March 30, Belgium follows Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta and the Baltic countries in quitting the polluting fossil fuel.

The closure of Belgium’s Langerlo plant comes hot-on-the-heels of Scotland closing Britain’s largest coal-fired power station, Longannet, signaling the end of an era for Scottish coal.

And with plans to phase out coal by 2025 in Britain and Austria and by 2020 in Portugal, “golden days of the coal industry are over” according to Joanna Flisowska of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe.

“Ending coal power use in Belgium marks a significant step in the inevitable transition away from fossil fuels,” Flisowska said.

According to CAN, the coal plant closure means Belgium’s annual CO2 emissions will be cut by almost two million tonnes. This is equal to more than one percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Europe joins China and the U.S. in the list of regions moving forward on the path away from coal—an industry which not only contributes to negative health, water and climate impacts, but also continues to see record low production, with major players such as Peabody filing for bankruptcy.

However, not everyone in Europe is keen to say good bye to King Coal just yet. Poland in particular continues to look to burn even more coal as it plans to implement new legislation pushing the country’s energy mix further towards coal and biomass over wind power.

Indeed, the industry appears increasingly desperate to remain relevant. A recent study shows that despite a continued drop in demand for electricity generated by coal, nearly $1 trillion worth of new coal plants are in the pipeline.

And as DeSmog UK revealed last month, Europe’s main coal lobby association EURACOAL paid for Canadian climate science denier Patrick Moore to speak to EU Officials and members of the European Parliament at an intimate dinner-debate entitled “Climate Demons or Climate Gods: Coal Industry Stakes Its Future.”

But as Belgium becomes the seventh European country to move away from coal it seems the industry’s future is looking increasingly bleak.

“Hard times for the coal industry will get a lot tougher yet,” Flisowska said. “This is good news for the climate. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the EU has to ensure that carbon emissions from its coal power plants are cut down much faster than their current rate.”

Scientists estimate more than 80 percent of the world’s coal reserves must stay unburned in order to limit global warming to 2C, the internationally agreed upper limit set under the Paris agreement.


‘King of Coal’ Gets One Year in Prison for Deadly Mine Disaster That Killed 29

21 Countries That Reduced Carbon Emissions While Growing Its GDP

Saudi Arabia Plans for Fossil-Free World

The Brave New World of Carbon Pricing

Show Comments ()
Parks & Wildlife Service, Western Australia / Twitter

More Than 140 Whales Dead After Mass Stranding in Western Australia

More than 150 short-finned pilot whales stranded en masse at Hamelin Bay on the west coast of Australia early Friday morning.

Most of the whales did not survive after beaching themselves, according to Jeremy Chick, incident controller at Western Australia's Parks & Wildlife Service.

Keep reading... Show less

The New Government Omnibus Spending Bill Shows That Science Advocacy Matters

By Yogin Kothari

After a long wait, late Wednesday night, Congress posted a spending agreement for the rest of the 2018 fiscal year. For the most part, we achieved significant victories, especially given the challenging political environment, in repelling proposals that would have directly undermined the role of science in public health and environmental policymaking.

Keep reading... Show less

Pipeline Leaks 42,000 Gallons Into Indiana Stream

Forty-two thousand gallons of diesel spilled from a Marathon Petroleum Corporation pipeline into Big Creek in Posey Creek, Indiana before the leak was detected Tuesday evening, U.S. News & World Report reported Wednesday.

The pipeline was immediately shut off, and workers contained the spill with two booms before it reached the Wabash River.

Keep reading... Show less

Skylines to Switch Off as Millions Connect to the Planet to Celebrate Earth Hour 2018

On Saturday, March 24 at 8:30 p.m. local time, skylines around the world will go dark as millions celebrate WWF's Earth Hour to spark global awareness and action on nature and the environment.

From the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building, and the Bird's Nest stadium to Burj Khalifa, thousands of landmarks will switch off their lights in solidarity for the planet, urging individuals, businesses and governments worldwide to move forward the conversations and solutions we need to build a healthy, sustainable future for all.

Keep reading... Show less
Save Ohio's Bobcat's is working to oppose a proposed trapping season for the recently-threatened feelines. Save Ohio's Bobcats

Concerned Ohioans Unite Against Bobcat Trapping Plan

Environmental activists, science educators and the Athens Ohio City Council are teaming up against a controversial new proposal by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (ODNRDOW) to open a bobcat trapping season in the southeastern part of the state, The New Political reported Wednesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Industrial agribusiness is destroying our most precious natural resource—water. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

From 'Sea to Shining Sea,' Industrial Ag Fouls America's Waterways

By Katherine Paul

A citizen-led group in Nebraska is fighting Costco's plan to build a huge chicken factory farm operation that residents in nearby cities say would pollute their drinking water.

Residents of Devils Lake, North Dakota, along with members of the Spirit Lake Nation Tribe are battling plans to build a hog CAFO in a neighboring community. They say the operation would pollute Devils Lake and area wetlands.

Keep reading... Show less
Plastic samples collected from the Great Pacific garbage patch. The Ocean Cleanup

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Now Twice the Size of Texas

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) floating off the coast of California now measures 1.6 million square kilometers (about 1 million square miles), according to a startling new study. To put that into perspective, the clump of trash is about the size of three Frances, or twice the size of Texas.

Not only that, the analysis, published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, also revealed that the massive Pacific trash vortex contains up to 16 times more plastic than previous estimates—and could rapidly get worse.

Keep reading... Show less
Sulfide chimneys coated with iron-based microbial mat at Urashima Vent. Deep sea hydrothermal vents like these are targeted for mining. NOAA / Flickr

Deep Sea Mining Decisions: Approaching the Point of No Return

By Sebastian Losada

Over the last two weeks, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) has been in discussions in Jamaica. Its mission—to work towards the finalization of exploitation regulations, a so-called mining code, that will allow commercial deep sea mining operations to begin all around the world.

In the quest for minerals, deep seabed mining means to extend mining activities into the deep ocean. The coming two years are critical in the opening—or not—of this unnecessary new frontier of resource exploitation.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!