Quantcast

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.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

‘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

Sponsored
Teenager Alex Weber and friends collected nearly 40,000 golf balls hit into the ocean from a handful of California golf courses. Alex Weber / CC BY-ND

By Matthew Savoca

Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.

As a scientist researching marine plastic pollution, I thought I had seen a lot. Then, early in 2017, I heard from Alex Weber, a junior at Carmel High School in California.

Read More Show Less
Southwest Greenland had the most consistent ice loss from 2003 to 2012. Eqalugaarsuit, Ostgronland, Greenland on Aug. 1, 2018. Rob Oo / CC BY 2.0

Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.

"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Seismic tests are a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. BSEE

Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.

The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.

Read More Show Less
Brazil, Pantanal, water lilies. Nat Photos / DigitalVision / Getty Images Plus

Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.

Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.

Read More Show Less
Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on Jan. 19 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe

By Andrea Germanos

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.

Read More Show Less
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Read More Show Less
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Read More Show Less
Great white shark. Elias Levy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By now you might have seen Ocean Ramsey's rare and jaw-dropping encounter with a great white shark in waters near Oahu, Hawaii.

Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive marine mammal.

Read More Show Less