Ever the overachiever, Sweden has closed their last coal-powered plant and smashed their goals two years in advance.
After multiple campaigns in the past year, Austria is jumping on the bandwagon with the closure of a huge heating facility.
Following Belgium in 2016, Austria and Sweden are the second and third European countries to move towards renewable energy sources.
Sweden’s original plan aimed for coal production to stop by 2022, but a milder winter meant the last coal-fired plant shut its doors on April 16. The Swedish energy company Stockholm Exergi says its 800,000 customers used fewer heating supplements this year.
“This plant has provided the Stockholmers with heat and electricity since 1989, (but) today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels, therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan,” says Stockholm Exergi CEO Anders Egelrud in a statement. The closure is expected to reduce the company’s CO2 emissions by half.
Over in Austria, Verbund’s Mellach coal-fired district heating plant was been sealed off only a day later. The closure is welcome news for climate activists Global 2000, who campaigned nonstop last year. However, some activists remark that coal emissions are still seeping out of the Voestalpine’s steelworks blast furnace.
Kathrin Gutmann, the campaign director for Europe Beyond Coal, says “the downward trajectory of coal in Europe is clear.”
“Against the backdrop of the serious health challenges we are currently facing, leaving coal behind in exchange for renewables is the right decision and will repay us in kind with improved health, climate protection and more resilient economies.”
Across Europe, the price of coal is seeing a natural rise as costs are covered to address the fall in demand. According to Europe Beyond Coal, several other countries are preparing to move beyond coal by 2025. On the list of coal-ditchers are France, Slovakia, Portugal, the UK, Ireland, and Italy.
Great news for the naughty kids who won’t get hard black lumps in their Christmas stockings this year.