Fifteen European countries announced plans for coal phase-out since 2015 although most of them do not have the necessary legislation in place to support their decision, according to a new report on Friday.
Europe Beyond Coal campaign and London-based climate think-tank Sandbag released a new report entitled Solving the Coal Puzzle: Lessons From Four Years of Coal Phase-out Policy in Europe, which analyzed the policies and phase-out plans of the 15 countries.
The U.K. was the first country in the world to pledge to go coal-free in 2015 followed by Austria, Finland, Belgium, France in 2016, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Italy in 2017, Ireland in 2018 and Germany, Greece, Hungary and Slovakia in 2019.
"Among those, Finland, France, and the Netherlands are the only ones who also have legislation in place to support their decision," the report said.
The Netherlands has two pieces of legislation. First, there is legislation based on efficiency to allow the phase-out of two older plants, and to permit coal plants with 44% efficiency to be burnt up to the end of 2024 at the latest. Second, legislation is in place to phase out plants with more than 44% higher efficiency by 2030.
Finland has imposed a law that makes it illegal to burn coal for energy production after May 1, 2029. It is the first phase-out decision enshrined in law, the report underlined.
The French coal phase-out is legislated through energy and climate law. An emissions performance standard will prevent the burning of coal from January 2022 while the U.K. is preparing for legislating the phase-out using an emissions performance standard.
"An announcement to phase out coal is not enough. It should be written into law to prevent the risk of backtracking with the change of governments, and to avoid loopholes. It should give a clear planning horizon for closures," the report suggested.
Thus, legislation could speed up the coal phase-out of the countries while it could take a decade or longer for other countries that have not yet put any legislation in place.
- Belgium goes coal-free while Germany staggers
Belgium is currently the only European country that has completed its phase-out journey.
Austria plans to complete its coal phase-out by 2020, Sweden by 2022, Portugal and Slovakia by 2023, the U.K., Ireland, and Italy aim to be coal-free by 2025, Greece by 2028, while Denmark and Hungary have set 2030 as their target.
According to the report, Germany is regarded as the only country with inadequate plans as its 2038 coal phase-out date is much later than the 2030 deadline that is needed for compliance with the Paris Climate agreement to hold the rise in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
"The legislation for Germany has not yet happened. It is complicated as it includes lignite phase-out contracts, hard coal closure auctions, regional transition plans and lots more. Despite the coal commission recommendations, there are still a lot of details to legislate on," the report read.
The adoption of legislation was initially to be by the end of 2019 but this is likely to be delayed to 2020 with the possibility of overall delays in getting vital early closures, the report warned.
By Firdevs Yuksel and Nuran Erkul Kaya