29 May 2019, 15:11
Julian Wettengel

NGOs criticise EU member states for receiving energy transition funds without plan to exit coal

Clean Energy Wire

[Update adds reaction by non-profit environmental law organisation ClientEarth.]

Environmental NGOs Climate Action Network Europe (CAN) and Sandbag criticised some EU member states for receiving EU funds intended to support the energy transition away from coal without having a clear plan to exit the climate-harmful fossil fuel. A report, which analyses the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) of 21 EU member states that still use coal, shows that only eight of these are committed to phasing out coal by 2030. According to the NGOs, the EU has to phase out all coal by that year to meet the commitments made under the Paris Climate Agreement. “Coal-reliant member states want to have their cake and eat it with just transition funding,” said Charles Moore, energy and policy analyst at Sandbag. “The European Commission can only continue to support these member states if they come up with realistic plans for moving away from coal.”
Reacting to the report, non-profit environmental law organisation ClientEarth lawyer Raphael Soffer said: “In countries like Germany, which scored very badly in this report, recommendations for a phase-out have been proposed, but legislation has yet to follow. This means uncertainty for workers or renewable energy investors, while allowing coal industry companies like RWE to continue to dominate the energy market and prevent reaching our climate protection goals.”

Germany has officially set in motion a gradual withdrawal from coal, joining other major economies in a global farewell to the climate-damaging fossil fuel. The coal commission recommended shutting down the last coal-fired power plant by 2038 at the latest. Germany’s NECP mentions that the coal commission was tasked with making recommendations on phasing out coal, but it does not yet include a clear plan, as the government has yet to adopt one. Chancellor Angela Merkel's government coalition has to decide how to implement the non-binding proposal and draft the necessary legislation. Many details have yet to be worked out and ultimately decided by parliamentarians in a process that could spill over into 2020. Germany must present a final version of its NECP by the end of 2019.

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