22 November 2021

Portugal becomes fourth European country to go coal free

LISBON, 22 November 2021 – Portugal has become the fourth country in Europe to stop burning coal, with its only remaining coal plant, Pego, closing ten days ahead of schedule. It concludes a whirlwind coal exit, which began when the country signed a declaration to exit coal by 2030 at COP23 in Bonn back in 2017. 

Coal phase out momentum in Europe continues to build, with 21 countries now either coal free, or in possession of a coal phase out plan. Portugal joins the likes of the UK, Greece, Hungary and Denmark in accelerating its coal phase out. Belgium, Austria and Sweden are the other three European countries to have already made coal history [1].

Portugal is the perfect example of how once a country commits to quitting coal, the pace of the phase out inevitably accelerates. The benefits of transitioning to renewables are so great, once started, it only makes sense to get out of coal as fast as possible,” said Kathrin Gutmann, Europe Beyond Coal campaign director. “Coal’s dire economics and public desire for climate action are driving faster and faster phase outs across Europe. The challenge now is to ensure utilities do not make the mistake of replacing coal with fossil gas, or unsustainable biomass.

Concerningly, Pego’s owner, Endesa, is considering converting the 682 MW plant to burn wood pellets, in a move that will accelerate climate change and contribute to disastrous clear-cutting practices [2]. 

Freeing ourselves from our biggest source of greenhouse gases is a momentous day for Portugal. But it is soured by the prospect of the plant being converted to burn forests,” said Francisco Ferreira, President of Portuguese, ZERO. “Ditching coal only to switch to the next worst fuel is clearly not an answer. Instead, the focus should be on rapidly upscaling our renewable energy capacity in wind and solar. 

ENDS

Contacts:

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

Kathrin Gutmann, Campaign Director, Europe Beyond Coal,
[email protected], +49 1577 8363 036

Francisco Ferreira, President of the Board, ZERO – Association for the Sustainability of the Earth System,
[email protected], +351-969078564

Notes:

  1. https://beyond-coal.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Overview-of-National-Coal-Phase-out-Commitments-in-Europe-4-November-2021.pdf
  2. https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2021/help-us-to-stop-the-pego-power-station-coal-to-biomass-conversion/
  3. Despite being licensed to operate until 30 November 2021, Pego stopped operating ten days early due to insufficient coal stocks: https://zero.ong/portugal-deixou-definitivamente-de-usar-carvao-na-producao-de-eletricidade-pego-era-responsavel-por-4-das-emissoes-do-pais

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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