08 November 2021

New Czech government flounders on coal exit with vague pre-2038 language

PRAGUE, 8 November 2021 – The new Czech government signed its coalition agreement [1] today containing just a cursory nod to a “pre-2038” coal exit. This is incompatible with the goals of the UN Paris climate agreement, and would fall short of the 2030 or 2033 coal exits promised by all but one coalition party in the lead up to the elections [2]. 

Studies show that the Czech Republic can phase out coal by a Paris-compatible 2030 date, if the government invests in renewable energy at the same rate as other EU countries and allows economics to determine the energy mix [3]. 

Any Czech coal exit timetable that is later than 2030 is nonsense. The market’s appetite for cheaper renewables is accelerating coal’s demise by the day and creating thousands of new, future-proofed green jobs,” said Zala Primc, campaigner at Europe Beyond Coal. “The watering down of pre-election pledges comes during COP26, where the world is meant to be stepping up action on phasing-out coal. Sixteen European countries have already heeded this message and are either coal-free, or plan to be by 2030. Numerous studies show this would be the cost-optimal pathway for the Czech Republic as well.

Meanwhile, polling shows that there is public support for a quick coal exit pathway [4], and that the majority of Czech citizens think the government should be doing more to tackle climate change [5].

The transformation of our energy system is already well underway due to tighter EU policies and coal’s dire economics. We needed much more than loose wording about a faster-than-2038 coal phase out in the coalition agreement. The inclusion of a specific year for a Czech coal exit is critical to determining a clear pathway for a managed and fair transition to a renewable energy-based system. The failure to do so would be a serious setback,” said Jiří Koželouh, Head of Climate and Energy at Hnuti DUHA. “All but one party in the new government promised to secure a 2030 coal phase out aligned with the Paris Agreement, or by 2033 at the very latest. Today’s murmurings of a pre-2038 coal exit would betray voters from day one.

A total of 16 European countries are now coal free, or have official coal phase out dates of 2030 at the very latest [6]. Coalition negotiations in neighbouring Germany are likely to deliver an agreement to accelerate the country’s 2038 phase out plan, with all parties involved agreeing a 2030 coal exit would be “ideal” [7]. Meanwhile, the new conservative state premier of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s largest coal region, has said he will work toward a 2030 exit [8]. 

ENDS

Contacts:

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

Zala Primc, Campaigner, Europe Beyond Coal (English, Slovene)
[email protected], + 386 (0) 40 981 828

Jiří Koželuh, Head of Climate and Energy, Hnuti DUHA (Friends of the Earth Czech Republic) (English, Czech)
[email protected], +420 723 559 495 

Notes:

  1. New government coalition agreement: https://www.starostove-nezavisli.cz/fmfile/0/files/2021_Hlavn%C3%AD%20kancelář/KOALICNI_SMLOUVA_fináln%C3%AD_korektury.pdf
  2. In their pre-election programs and statements, the Pirate Party, Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) and the Liberals clearly declared support for a 2030 coal phase out date, while the Mayors and Independents party supported 2033. Only the Conservative party (ODS) did not take an official stand on coal, yet one of their parliamentarians, Petr Bendl, expressed support for 2030: https://volby.hnutiduha.cz/sites/default/files/HD_ZK_Hodnoceni_predvolebnich_programu_2021.pdf
  3. Coal-free Czechia (Ember) https://ember-climate.org/project/coal-free-czechia-2030/
  4. Opinion poll showing public support for a rapid coal exit: https://www.greenpeace.org/czech/tiskova-zprava/13299/pruzkum-ceska-verejnost-preferuje-konec-spalovani-uhli-v-roce-2033-podporuje-ho-temer-kazdy-druhy-clovek/ 
  5. Europeans support new wind and solar projects in their local area: https://europeanclimate.org/resources/europeans-support-new-wind-and-solar-projecs-in-their-local-area/
  6. Overview of national coal phase-outs in Europe: https://beyond-coal.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Overview-of-National-Coal-Phase-out-Commitments-in-Europe-4-November-2021.pdf
  7. https://www.businessgreen.com/news-analysis/4038453/global-briefing-german-coalition-partners-2030-coal-exit
  8. https://www.cleanenergywire.org/news/new-state-premier-north-rhine-westphalia-ready-end-coal-2030
  9. Why Europe must phase out coal by 2030 to respect the UN Paris climate agreement: https://climateanalytics.org/briefings/coal-phase-out/
  10. A 2038 coal exit date had originally been recommended by the Czech coal commission almost a year ago. The decision was based on a series of faulty assumptions, such as low emission allowance prices of 30€/tonne of CO2 in 2030, while prices are already double that, and minimal growth in renewables. 
  11. The Czech Republic is the fourth-largest CO2 emitter per capita in the EU, and the cost-optimal pathway to meet the EU’s -55% GHG 2030 climate targets is to focus on a coal phase out, which would account for 75 percent of the required emission reductions to meet the 2030 climate target. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/pathways-to-decarbonize-the-czech-republi

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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