Coal is the most carbon intensive form of energy, and it’s the most polluting too. It has no place in a 21st century energy mix, and in many parts of the world its use is declining. Britain has a handful left, with plans for all of them to be closed down by 2025 – though they may be redundant before then.
Elsewhere in Europe, closing down coal has been a little harder. It’s been harder to switch to gas, or there are vested interests or coal-mining regions that resist change. Coal is hanging on, delaying emissions cuts and prolonging the health effects.
The Last Gasp is a recent report from the climate think tank Sandbag. They have mapped Europe’s remaining coal power stations, and modelled the pollutants from them. Compiled into a video, it’s a striking illustration of how one country’s energy policy affects its neighbours:
The worst offender is Germany, with four of the ten worst polluting companies. Poland has three, and the Czech Republic, Spain and Bulgaria have one each. Closing these down is a win-win policy: better for the climate, and better for the health of all Europeans. For more on how to do it, see the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which held a ‘coal free day’ at COP24 last week.