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EU nations pledge no more coal plants from 2020

EUROPE: All but two of the European Union's 28 member states have signed up to an agreement to build no more coal-fired plants from 2020.

Hard to say goodbye… Poland is one of only two EU states not to sign an agreement to stop building coal power plants from 2020
Hard to say goodbye… Poland is one of only two EU states not to sign an agreement to stop building coal power plants from 2020

The only dissenters were Poland, which sources close to 90% of its electricity from coal, and Greece.

The agreement was announced by Eurelectric, which represents around 3,500 of the continent's power utilities, on 5 April.

"Europe's energy companies are putting their money where their mouths are," said Eurelectric secretary-general Kristian Ruby, former head of policy for the European Wind Energy Association, now WindEurope.

"History will judge this message we are bringing here today," said Ruby.

Getting Germany on side was crucial to the energy utilities' announcement. Germany's dependence on coal has increased over recent years as a bridge to move away from nuclear and into renewables.

Persuading Poland to reduce its dependence on coal largely relies on promoting investment in offshore wind as the current administration has imposed strict new rules on setback distance that prohibit onshore development.

But Poland has good offshore wind resources, and the country supplies a significant proportion of Europe's offshore monopile foundations.

"It is now clear that there is no future for coal in the EU," said director of Climate Action Network Europe Wendel Trio.

"The question is: what is the date for its phase-out in the EU, and how hard will the coal industry fight to keep plants open, even if they are no longer economically viable."

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