The EU must tell the world it will power past coal by 2030

(EurActiv, 28 Jun 2021) The G7’s failure to agree a concrete exit date for coal leaves the EU as the only global heavyweight able to provide leadership, argues Pieter de Pous, saying the European Commission’s upcoming ‘Fit for 55’ package provides the best opportunity to do that.

Pieter de Pous is a senior policy advisor on climate and energy policy at E3G, an independent European climate change think tank with a global outlook.

Powering past coal has been one of the EU’s best-kept secrets. The publication of its landmark Fitfor55 package is a good moment to reveal the secret and show how it will complete the last stretch.

The choice of energy mix is a fiercely defended prerogative of the EU’s member states. It is one of the reasons why, in the past, the EU and in particular the Commission rarely spoke about how the EU’s energy mix is evolving.

For a few years however, the EU energy debate has started to become more explicit. 2021 has seen the EU emerge as an actor on coal diplomacy pushing for an end to Chinese coal financing as part of its High Level Climate Dialogue with China.

And the unanimous adoption of a new Foreign Energy and Climate Policy calls for a global phase out of coal giving the Commission a powerful mandate to work with.

A closer look at the EU’s power mix explains this new assertiveness. Since 2015 coal power generation in the EU has halved. If this past trend continues, EU coal power use would be zero as soon as 2026. In July 2020 renewables were at 40%, for the first time ever making up a larger share of the EU’s power mix then all fossils combined.

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EurActiv, 28 Jun 2021: The EU must tell the world it will power past coal by 2030