30 June 2021

Spain and North Macedonia commit to exit coal by 2030

LONDON, 30 June 2021 – Spain and North Macedonia joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) at the London Climate Action Week today, bringing the number of European countries that have committed to phase out coal by 2030, or are already coal free, to sixteen. North Macedonia will close its two coal plants by 2027, while Spain has opted for an unambitious 2030 end date for coal, despite closing all of its coal mines and more than half of its installed coal capacity since 2019. Montenegro, Croatia and Albania  have also joined the alliance. Montenegro’s 2035 phase out plan overshoots UN Paris climate agreement compatibility by five years, while Croatia has joined as a non-declaration member with a commitment to set a coal phase out date in the near future. Albania has no coal in its electricity mix. In an unprecedented move, Poland’s Eastern Wielkopolska subregion becomes the first Polish region to join the PPCA. It has over 1GW of installed coal capacity and approximately 4,000 people are employed in its plants and mines. The owner of the region’s coal infrastructure, ZE PAK, has also committed to exit coal by 2030, a full 19 years earlier than the Polish government’s end date for hard coal. 

“North Macedonia and Spain’s decision to join the club of European countries getting out of coal by 2030 re-emphasises the fact that Paris climate agreement-aligned coal phaseouts are now the norm for European countries,” said Mahi Sideridou, Managing Director at Europe Beyond Coal. “The addition of North Macedonia to this group is particularly significant, as it is the first Western Balkan country to commit to quitting coal. Spain’s decision to formalise its coal phase out is also very welcome, given that it used to be one of Europe’s biggest coal producers, but its unambitious 2030 timeline belies the effectiveness of its world-leading just transition strategy, which we expect will bring about the closure of its last plant by 2025.”

“As a country that is already feeling the effects of climate change and cannot afford to pay the high price of its impacts, North Macedonia has no other option but to ramp-up its climate ambition. Committing to phase out coal by 2027 is a key part of this,” said Elena Nikolovska, Communications Manager at the Center for environmental research and information, Eko-svest. “The transition away from coal has already begun in North Macedonia’s coal regions, and local communities are leading the way. Moving forward, we need to make sure this continues to be a transparent process, where local voices are listened to, and no one is left behind.”

“Phasing out coal is the first necessary step to transitioning to a zero carbon economy, so we welcome Spain’s decision to join the Powering Past Coal Alliance,” said Carlota Ruiz-Bautista, environmental lawyer at IIDMA. “Crucially, the Spanish government realised back in 2018 that coal plant and mine closures were unavoidable, and so developed a just transition strategy that has given confidence to coal communities that there is a clear, optimistic vision for the future, and resistance to closures ebbed away. Now the government needs to work with operators to finish the job and close the remaining plants as soon as possible, and no later than 2025.” 

“We welcome the Montenegrin government’s decision to join the Powering Past Coal Alliance, but it is already time to stop spending our natural, financial and human resources on dirty energy,” said Natasa Kovacevic, Executive Director at Montenegrin NGO, Green Home. “The 54 million euros earmarked for the remediation of Montenegro’s Pljevlja coal power plant will not reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and could be used to finance a new 50 MW solar power plant, which at this time of health and climate crises, is by far and away the cheapest, healthiest, and most climate-friendly option.”   

Contacts:

Mahi Sideridou, Managing Director, Europe Beyond Coal campaign
(Greek, English, French) [email protected], +45 93 602033

Elena Nikolovska, Communications manager, Center for environmental research and information Eko-svest (Macedonian, English) [email protected], +389 70 205 431

Javier Sánchez Castro Communications Manager, IIDMA (Spanish, English)
[email protected], +34 913 08 68 46 

Natasa Kovacevic, Executive Director, Green Home (Montenegrin, English)
[email protected], +382 20 609 375 

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

Notes:

  1. European countries already coal-free: Belgium (2016), Austria (2020), Sweden (2020)
  2. European countries with a coal phase out by 2025: Portugal (end-2021), France (2022), UK (2024), Hungary (2025), Italy (2025), Ireland (2025), Greece (2025).
  3. European countries with a phase out by 2030: North Macedonia (2027) Denmark (2028), Finland (mid-2029), Netherlands (end-2029), Slovakia (2030), Spain (2030).
  4. Why Europe must phase out coal by 2030 to respect the UN Paris climate agreement: https://climateanalytics.org/briefings/coal-phase out/
  5. Spain has seven coal plants still to close: Alcudia (260 MW), As Pontes (1468 MW), Litoral (1159 MW), Abono (916 MW), Lada (358 MW), Los Barrios (589 MW) and Soto de Ribera (350 MW).
  6. The PPCA includes 19 EU governments (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden) and six non-EU European governments (Albania, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Switzerland, United Kingdom).
  7. PPCA members: https://www.poweringpastcoal.org/members
  8. Europe Beyond Coal report on Spain’s Just Transition strategy: https://beyond-coal.eu/2020/12/10/saying-adios-to-coal/
  9. Europe Beyond Coal report on European countries’ coal phase out policies: https://beyond-coal.eu/2019/12/18/solving-the-coal-puzzle/
  10. Report by Polish think tank, Instrat, on the potential for a just transition in Eastern Wielkopolska: http://instrat.pl/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Instrat-4-WWF_Executive-Summary_Wielkopolska_ENG-1.pdf

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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