03 March 2021

Hungary brings coal phase out forward by five years to 2025

BUDAPEST, 3 March 2021 – Hungary is now the sixth European country to bring forward its coal phase out plan, announcing that it will shut its last remaining coal plant in 2025 – five years earlier than previously planned. The move was revealed by Hungary’s Secretary of State for the Development of Circular Economy, Energy and Climate Policy, Attila Steiner, at a meeting of the Powering Past Coal Alliance held yesterday.

Hungarian President János Áder announced the country’s original plan to exit coal by 2030 at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York in 2019 [1]. With Hungary set to receive millions of euros from the EU’s new Just Transition Fund to support the transition of its coal regions, and already part of the European Commission’s LIFE programme to help decarbonise the region [2], the confirmation of the closure of the 884 MW Matra coal power plant is a critical step in planning for a Just Transition for workers and impacted communities.

“The Hungarian government’s decision to halve the time it will take to exit coal tells you everything you need to know about the state of Europe’s collapsing coal industry,” said Kathrin Gutmann, Europe Beyond Coal campaign director. “Half of Europe’s coal countries are either already coal free or have a UN Paris climate agreement aligned, pre-2030 coal phase out plan, and it’s quickly becoming a trend to fast track coal exits once announced. It shows that when governments actually stop and look at the cold hard economic and political realities of coal, not only do they want to get rid of it – they decide to do so as quickly as possible.”

In a nod to how Europe’s former coal sites can drive forward the continent’s clean energy transition and replace jobs lost to coal plant and mine closures, a 200 MW solar farm is planned for the plant’s site. However, the plant’s management also plans to replace the current lignite units with a 500 MW fossil gas plant that would lock the region into a new fossil fuel, and miss out on the opportunity to invest in a one hundred percent renewable energy system [3].

“The government’s announcement fulfils the minimum criteria of our demands: we got a clear commitment to phase out coal with the shutting down of the last remaining coal power station in Hungary by 2025, and no further lifetime extension. However, this move is linked to the commissioning of a new fossil gas power station, which is unacceptable. You cannot fight climate change with new fossil power stations. Furthermore, it is also worrying that the announcement said nothing about the already licensed plans for extending the lignite mine in the vicinity of the power station,” said Andras Perger, Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace CEE.

 

NOTES

 

  1. https://emerging-europe.com/news/hungary-to-phase-out-coal-by-2030/
  2. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/QANDA_21_502
  3. https://www.portfolio.hu/gazdasag/20210225/lejart-a-kornyezetrombolo-szentuzeles-ideje-atalakul-a-matrai-eromu-471456#
  4. The other five European countries to bring forward their coal phase out announcements are: France, Portugal, Sweden, Austria and the UK.
  5. Link to yesterday’s Powering Past Coal Alliance meeting: https://poweringpastcoal.org/summit-2021/high-level-plenary
  6. The closure announcement of Matra means 157 of Europe’s 324 coal plants have now retired or have been announced to retire before 2030
  7. Only 13 countries in Europe are yet to declare a coal phase out: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Spain and North Macedonia. But coal phase out discussions are currently underway in the Czech Republic, Spain and North Macedonia.
  8. Overview of national coal phase out plans: https://beyond-coal.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Overview-of-national-coal-phase-out-announcements-Europe-Beyond-Coal-March-2021.pdf

 

Contacts:

Kathrin Gutmann, Campaign Director, Europe Beyond Coal (German, English)
[email protected], + 49 (0) 1577 836 3036

Andras Perger, Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace CEE (English, Hungarian)
[email protected], +36 20 3711266

Alastair Clewer, Communications Officer, Europe Beyond Coal (English)
[email protected], +49 176 433 07 185

 

About:

Europe Beyond Coal is an alliance of civil society groups working to catalyse the closures of coal mines and power plants, prevent the building of any new coal projects and hasten the just transition to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our groups are devoting their time, energy and resources to this independent campaign to make Europe coal free by 2030 or sooner. www.beyond-coal.eu

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