25 January 2022

Limited Utility: European energy companies failing on net zero commitments

BERLIN, 25 JANUARY 2022 – The business plans of European coal companies do not contain the intermediate targets necessary to deliver on their net zero pledges, according to a new report published today by Europe Beyond Coal and think tank Ember, and endorsed by ten other organisations. When held up against the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) net zero by 2050 roadmap, not one of the business plans analysed contained all of the necessary milestones on fossil fuel phase out and accelerated deployment of renewables to deliver on the mid-century target and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. 

Limited Utility: The European energy companies failing on net zero commitments [1] examines the plans of twenty one Europe based coal utilities, sixteen of which have pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050. It finds that less than half plan to deliver the required 2030 EU/OECD coal exit, and none have plans for a 2035 EU/OECD unabated fossil gas exit from electricity production [2]. Together, their plans will comfortably quadruple solar and wind power by 2030, but this also falls short of the minimum six-fold growth required globally. 

Not one European coal utility analysed by this report is making plans to meet all science-based milestones to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees. If Europe is to do its part for climate action and exit coal by 2030, and have a fossil-free, renewables-based power system by 2035, these companies need to show near-term plans to close coal and fossil gas plants, and massively scale up the build-out of wind and solar power generation. All the talk of mid-century targets is just fluff so long as their business plans have no way of delivering on them,” said Kathrin Gutmann, Europe Beyond Coal campaign director. 

There’s growing consensus among governments of advanced economies that a clean electricity supply by 2035 is crucial to realising net zero emissions by 2050, but that’s not being reflected in the business plans of European utilities. These urgently need to be aligned with the International Energy Agency’s net zero roadmap if we want to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees and escape the energy price and supply crises caused by volatile fossil fuels,” said Sarah Brown, lead author and senior energy and climate analyst at Ember. 

Each of these companies knows very well what is required of them to deliver on their net zero pledges, so the gaping hole between their so-called ‘ambition’ and what they actually intend to deliver is very revealing. It’s time to draw a line in the sand: if companies do not align their business plans with the intermediate milestones required to deliver on their net zero pledges, financial institutions providing them with support must intervene,” said Kaarina Kolle, lead author.   

ENDS

Contacts

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

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

Sarah Brown, Senior Energy and Climate Analyst, Ember (English)
[email protected]

Notes

  1. Limited Utility: The European energy companies failing on net zero commitments, published by Europe Beyond Coal and its partners Ember, WWF, Greenpeace, Anthropocene Fixed Income Institute (AFII), Reclaim Finance, Urgewald, Friends of the Earth Finland, Amis de la Terre, FUNDACJA “ROZWÓJ TAK – ODKRYWKI NIE”, Re:Common and ShareAction: https://beyond-coal.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/LimitedUtility_The-European-energy-companies-failing-on-net-zero-commitments.pdf
  2. According to the International Energy Agency’s net zero emissions report, all unabated coal plants must be phased out by 2030 in advanced economies, and by 2040 in the rest of the world. Advanced economies must reach overall net‐zero emission electricity by 2035, and the rest of the world must reach net‐zero emission electricity by 2040. In 2030, 60% of total global electricity generation should come from renewables, which requires at least a six-fold growth in solar and wind between 2020 and 2030.
  3. IEA report: Net Zero by 2050, A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector: https://www.iea.org/reports/net-zero-by-2050

About 

Europe Beyond Coal is an alliance of civil society groups working to ensure a just transition to a fossil-free, fully renewables-based European energy sector. This means exiting coal entirely by 2030 at the latest, and fossil gas by 2035 in the power sector. We devote our time and resources to this independent campaign because we are committed to seeing a European energy system that protects people, nature and our global climate: www.beyond-coal.eu

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