'Clean coal' myth risks sabotaging EU path towards 100% renewables

Coal mining © AFPBrussels, Belgium - 26 February 2018

The EU's move away from polluting coal power and towards renewable energy could be at risk due to a focus on unworkable and unproven "clean coal" technologies, NGOs are warning.

The warning comes ahead of the first meetings today and tomorrow of the EU Platform for Coal Regions in Transition, which aims to "leave no region behind" in the shift away from fossil fuels.

The NGOs are pleased that the European Commission finally realises coal must go and wants to help this happen in a fair and sustainable way across Europe. However, the meeting's part focus on "advanced coal technologies" - industry spin for "Slightly Lower Intensity, More Expensive" plants - is a worrying sign that the Platform's crucial goals could be sidetracked by the fallacy of "clean coal".

Darek Urbaniak, Senior Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office said:
"There is no such thing as "clean coal" – so how comes this myth continues to hijack efforts to move Europe beyond coal? Focusing on unworkable technologies is simply throwing time and money out of the window. Instead, the EU Platform should support coal communities in a shift away from all fossil fuels towards energy efficiency, wind and solar power."

Nikos Mantzaris, Energy and Climate Policy Expert, WWF Greece added:
"The citizens of Western Macedonia - one of the Platform's regions - have paid dearly, with their health, for the coal that has powered recent Greek development. The regional economy must urgently shift towards sustainable economic activities. The EU Coal Platform can be pivotal for this provided it steers away from attempts to revive "clean" coal technologies, which have failed throughout the years."

Climate Action Network Europe, CEE Bankwatch, Friends of the Earth (CEPA), Greenpeace and WWF, who are all part of the Europe Beyond Coal campaign, are calling for the Platform to focus on:

  • a sustainable transition to energy efficiency and renewables
  • the shift of local economies to sustainable economic activities
  • social and economic support for workers from the coal industry through the transition.

The Platform must also:

  • ensure transparency and consultation with all stakeholders in the process of developing just transition plans for each of the coal mining regions.
  • Not be an excuse to provide life-support to outdated, polluting or uneconomic "advanced coal" technologies.

The Platform, launched by European Commission Vice-President Šefčovič in December 2017, aims to support Member States and regions as they shift away from coal towards renewable energy, in order to "leave no region behind".

The first meetings of the Platform are being held on 26-27 February in Brussels. The agenda which has been circulated centres around: 1. Post-coal economy and structural transformation and 2. Eco-innovation and advanced coal technologies

More information:

  • See WWF's response to the launch of the Platform
  • WWF is running a Just Transition project in Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, and Poland, which kicked off in October 2017. Through the project, WWF is advocating for Just Transition pathways in those countries. The aim is to improve the exchange of knowledge in, and between, those countries, and engage all relevant stakeholders in a Just Transition as an acknowledged component of European, national, and regional policies. More
  • What is the Europe Beyond Coal campaign?
    Civil society groups and citizens across Europe have been working together to help heal coal's social, health, environmental, and economic damage. Given the unprecedented scale of the problems we face and the short timeframe we have to fix them, they are pooling their time, energy, and resources in an unprecedented campaign spanning 28 countries to dramatically accelerate the transition to a better future for all, for a Europe Beyond Coal. More

Contact:

Darek Urbaniak
Senior Energy Policy Officer, WWF European Policy Office
durbaniak@wwf.eu
Tel: +32 495 460 258

Sarah Azau
Senior Communications Officer, WWF European Policy Office
sazau@wwf.eu
Tel: +32 473 573 137

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