Coal and Just Transition | WWF
© WWF-US / Julie Pudlowski

Coal & the just transition

Coal is the dirtiest fuel available and coal-fired power plants are the single biggest global source of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Coal and subsidies for coal must be phased out rapidly, and in a socially fair manner, providing support to people in regions in need to make the transition. 

Why it matters

Burning coal releases carbon dioxide, which causes climate change. Coal also emits nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, dust and heavy metals.These pollutants are major causes of acid rain and ground level ozone, and are associated with a range of human health problems. Coal mining also destroys the environment, and depletes and contaminates water supplies.

Member States can choose their energy sources, so the European Commission has limited impact. However, it can help phase out coal, by strengthening laws limiting emissions such as the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NEC), as well as the  EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and setting up an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) for CO2 from power plants. 

What WWF is doing

To prevent dangerous climate change, the world’s coal consumption needs to peak and then start to decline before 2020, in line with most climate scenarios and the Paris Agreement.

To reach WWF’s goal of a 100% renewable energy, coal must be completely phased out of the global energy system. By 2030 at the latest, there should be no new coal in developing countries.

To limit global warming to well below 2°C temperature rise, European coal emissions must fall on average by 8% every year until 2040. This is three times faster than currently.

The EU needs to strengthen the IED and NEC Directives and the EU ETS to reduce the health and environmental impacts of coal.

The EU must develop a progressive EPS - gCO2/kWh or total carbon emissions budgets over a certain time period for existing and new power generation plants with baselines depending on national circumstances.

An EU ‘Just Transition Fund’ (JTF) must be created to ensure a sustainable transition for EU coal dependent regions and social protection for coal sector workers. 
WWF EU offices engaged in the transition from coal to renewable energy in the EU are: WWF Germany, WWF UKWWF GreeceWWF HungaryWWF SpainWWF PolandWWF ItalyWWF Norway and WWF European Policy Office. WWF is part of the Europe Beyond Coal campaign, which calls for an end to coal in Europe by 2030.