Europe’s coal legacy remains a major climate hurdle

(EurActiv, 13 Mar 2024) The European Union is responsible for emitting more methane from coal than other fossil fuels due to continued mining operations in Europe, insufficient measures, and a legacy of abandoned mines.

Europe has a long history of large-scale coal mining, and while the EU is trying to move toward cleaner alternatives, whether natural gas or renewables, coal remains the dirtiest fuel in use and the bloc’s biggest source of methane emissions.

Methane – known to consumers as “natural” gas – is a massive driver of global warming, and over 20 years, it has had an impact 80 times greater than CO2. Aside from the infamous carbon, methane is the second-most important greenhouse gas.

For the EU, tackling territorial methane emissions means eventually reigning in agricultural emissions – cattle emissions, methane released from the ground by tilling, and waste dumps, but the use of fossil fuels comes first.

“A 75% cut in methane emissions from fossil fuels by 2030 is imperative to stop the planet from warming to a dangerous level,” said Fatih Birol, chief of the International Energy Agency (IEA), in a press release on Wednesday (13 March). 

Globally, methane emissions are on the rise, hitting 120 million tonnes in 2023, although the IEA is predicting a drop in the coming years, and oil production continues to be the biggest individual contributor.

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EurActiv, 13 Mar 2024: Europe’s coal legacy remains a major climate hurdle