EU governments cling to coal | WWF

EU governments cling to coal

Posted on 19 December 2017
Coal fired power station
© © Andrew Kerr / WWF
Brussels, Belgium - 19 December 2017

Yesterday EU Member States agreed to allow even the dirtiest coal plants to stay switched on using public money. Their position was reached late at night, after earlier agreements on renewables and governance.

The agreement was part of the reform of the EU power market, the Market Design Regulation. Member States also refused to join up their power markets, which will delay more renewables coming on line, and increase costs for consumers.

Adam White, Research Coordinator at WWF European Policy Office said:
“Coal is a filthy and fading energy source. Yet EU Member States chose to prop it up with public money, despite the harm it does every day to our health and our climate!

“The Estonian EU Presidency has gone for a quick and dirty agreement. Their legacy will be that they helped to delay what people and what the planet needs - an efficient and fully renewable energy system with citizens at its heart.”

Darek Urbaniak, Senior Policy Officer, WWF European Policy Office said:
“EU Member States have failed to understand the urgency of phasing out coal. The introduction of an Emissions Performance Standard for new and existing power plants could have been an opportunity to speed it up, but instead EU countries have delayed it.

This decision comes at a moment when more and more countries are joining the ‘Powering Past Coal’ Alliance which aims to rapidly phase out existing and place a moratorium on new coal power. EU should be leading moving the world from burning coal to cleaner power sources.”

Ministers weakened the Commission’s efforts to limit public money going to coal in almost every way possible. Member States gave themselves much more power to decide if they need a capacity mechanism and what power stations any such mechanism can support to stay on stand-by.  Existing coal plants would be able to receive these payments for an additional decade, all the way up to 2035, and even new plants get 5 more years than the Commission considered necessary - up to 2025.

This Council position was criticised in the meeting by Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, but will go forwards to trilogue meetings with the Commission and Parliament.  Those meetings will happen in Spring 2018 because of extended negotiations in the industry and energy Committee - only expected to be concluded on 21 February 2018, before a likely vote in plenary in March. Energy ministers also have to confirm their preliminary agreement on the full Clean Energy for all Europeans package at an energy council on 26 February before trilogues begin.

Print quality images from the media stunt outside the Council on 18 December available at: