The European Union wants to abandon coal by 2050, but this will require significant help from European banks, which still finance 26 per cent of all coal power plants in the world.
The European Commission recently presented its so-called “Green Deal ”, a package of initiatives aiming to neutralise the EU’s impact on the climate by 2050. However, the path towards its application will be tortuous, given that some Eastern member states already vetoed the same target during the European Council summit last June.
Eastern and Central European countries depend strongly on coal for the production of electricity, and fear that a loosely structured transition towards other forms of energy production could negatively impact their economic growth. The use of coal specifically represents one of the major obstacles to reducing emissions: besides being by its very nature one of the most polluting resources, coal produces around 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union and 38 percent of CO2 emissions .
Many countries in Western Europe (including Italy and Spain) have already scheduled the total abandonment of coal by 2030, while Germany (where coal still provides 40 percent of energy needs) intends to achieve this goal by 2038. However, according to data from Europe Beyond Coal , complete transition is still a long way off: only 38 of the 287 active coal and electricity stat