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Greece, Hungary to exit coal by 2030


24 Sept 2019 11:48

Photo: Pexels

Photo: Pexels


24 Sept 2019 11:48

(Montel) Greece and Hungary will phase out all coal-fired power generation capacity by 2028 and 2030, respectively – accounting for a combined 6 GW – amid efforts to improve their green credentials.

“Until now, Greece’s power mix has been relying on coal and a new lignite plant is currently being built, which was supposed to operate beyond 2050,” said environmental group Europe Beyond Coal, in a note.

It added the announcement – delivered by Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the UN climate action summit in New York overnight – made Greece the only country in southeast Europe to have announced a coal phase-out date.

Further details would be announced by the end of the year, it said.

Greece currently has around 4.9 GW of coal-fired capacity.

Low carbon aims
A spokesperson for the Greek environment and energy ministry was not available for comment but according to a government press release, energy minister Kostis Chatzidakis on Monday signed a statement in support of a transition to a low carbon economy by 2030.

And a UN press statement from the New York summit noted the Greek and Hungarian heads of state were among those that had announced they would work to phase out coal.

“This is the first time I’ve heard such a tight deadline for the Greek energy sector on a coal phase-out,” a Greek energy analyst told Montel, adding “just a few months ago, the previous government even tried to introduce subsidies to keep these plants running”.

He noted, however, there had been “several warnings” from the EU to proceed with an effective coal phase-out plan.

“But I think the most important element of this decision is probably the fact that the fuel has become widely inefficient and costly, especially because of carbon emission reduction practices,” he said.

Hungarian exit
Also at the New York summit, Hungarian president János Áder announced plans to phase out the country’s 1.1 GW of coal-fired generation capacity by the end of the next decade.

“Discussions around a coal phase-out have been underway for some time in Hungary, and while this news is welcome, Hungary can and should target a more ambitious 2025 phase out date,” Europe Beyond Coal said.

“The challenge for both Greece and Hungary now is to implement a clear plan for a just transition from coal to renewable energy sources so workers and communities are not left behind,” it added.

Other major European countries like the UK have signed up to exit coal-fired generation, with Britain due to close all such plants by 2025, while Germany is still devising a staggered phase-out.

Ahead of the New York meeting, the World Meteorological Organisation said the amount of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere between 2015 and 2019 had grown by 20% compared with the previous five years.

The main UN conference on climate change will take place in December in Santiago, Chile.

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