03 June 2021
Romania confirms it is ditching coal
BUCHAREST, 3 June 2021 – Romania has confirmed that it will exit coal in its National Resilience and Recovery Plan (NRRP) submitted to the European Commission. It states that Romania intends to exit coal by 2032, while passing a law covering the closure and conservation of mines, reskilling of workers, and socio-economic measures to support affected coal communities by the second quarter of 2022. The document also says that local development strategies will be completed for affected regions to support them in the transition away from coal.
“Romania’s move to exit coal is historic and shows just how much of a ball and chain coal has become for all countries in Europe,” said Mahi Sideridou, Managing Director at Europe Beyond Coal. “Surging carbon permit prices and the boom of renewables has brought us to this point. Those trends are only going to intensify, so there’s no way Romania’s coal industry will hang on until 2032. The only tenable plan now is for Romania to focus on a pre-2030 coal exit, and then throw everything behind a comprehensive set of transition plans so that its coal regions can access EU just transition funds and come out the other side all the stronger.”
Fourteen other European countries have either already gone coal free  or plan to do so by 2030 . Germany also has a coal exit plan, but it breaches UN Paris climate agreement compatibility by eight years . This recent commitment to phase out coal means Romania joins the Czech Republic, North Macedonia, Slovenia and Spain in making concrete plans for a coal phase out.
The decision on a coal phase out comes as the Romanian government waits to hear whether the European Commission will green-light Romania’s plan to inject EUR 1.3 billion in state aid into state-owned energy company Complexul Energetic Oltenia (CE Oltenia). The company produces 90 percent of Romania’s coal-fired electricity, but would probably go bankrupt  if it is not restructured. The proposed restructuring plan  does not foresee a coal phase out, contradicting the government’s NRRP, and if enacted, would result in a 28 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
“We welcome the government’s decision to plan a coal exit, but it needs to align with the Paris climate agreement and the EU’s Green Deal, and that means phasing out coal by 2030 at the latest,” said Vlad Cătună, energy campaigner at Greenpeace. “The government also needs to forget the idea of pivoting to fossil gas. Romania has a valuable opportunity to leapfrog to a cheaper, cleaner renewables-based energy system. The government’s fossil gas plans threaten to completely undermine that.”
- European countries already coal free: Belgium (2016), Austria (2020), Sweden (2020).
- European countries that plan to phase out coal by 2030: Portugal (end-2021), France (2022), UK (2024), Hungary (2025), Italy (2025), Ireland (2025), Greece (2025), Denmark (2028), Finland (mid-2029), Netherlands (end-2029), Slovakia (2030)
- Why Europe must phase-out coal by 2030 to respect the UN Paris climate agreement: https://climateanalytics.org/briefings/coal-phase-out/
- CE Oltenia has only been able to pay for its own Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) allowances thanks to substantial injections of public funding, including a government rescue loan of EUR 251 million approved by the European Commission in 2020: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/mex_20_323
- CE Oltenia restructuring plan: https://www.ceoltenia.ro/documente/Transparenta/Plan%20restructurare%20CEO.pdf
- Romania’s National Resilience and Recovery Plan:
- Study showing Romania can exit coal without risking energy security: https://www.enpg.ro/study-accelerated-lignite-exit-in-bulgaria-romania-and-greece-eng-ro/
Vlad Catuna, Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace (English, Romanian)
[email protected], +40 31 435 57 43
Mahi Sideridou, Managing Director, Europe Beyond Coal campaign (Greek, English, French)
[email protected], +45 93 602033
Alastair Clewer, Communications Officer, Europe Beyond Coal (English)
[email protected], +49 176 433 07 185
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