International

UK and Germany biggest coal polluters in the EU

Coal power plants across the EU are undermining climate change efforts, reveals the ‘Europe’s Dirty 30′ report, released today by the Climate Action Network (CAN), WWF, the European Environmental Bureau, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Climate Alliance Germany.

The report exposes the top 30 most polluting power plants in the EU, ranked according to their total CO2 emissions in 2013. It reveals that Germany and the UK rank joint first for the number of dirty coal power plants, with nine each.

The UK’s nine coal power stations produced less than a third of its electricity supply last year, but were responsible for nearly two thirds of carbon emissions from the electricity sector, according to the report. The plants were mainly built in the 1960s and 70s and often have a low average efficiency of 36 percent.

English: Castle Gate Power Plant near Helper b...

English: Castle Gate Power Plant near Helper by David Jolley 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kathrin Gutmann, Coal Policy Officer at CAN Europe, said: “Coal-fired power plants are the single biggest global source of greenhouse gas emissions. CO2 emissions from coal in the EU are still far too high, as shown by the EU’s ‘Dirty 30 power plants’. The EU needs to tackle coal head on, if it wants to successfully meet its own long-term climate targets.”

The UK’s coal plants produce air pollution in the form of nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, particulates and mercury which have significant negative impacts on human health and the environment. Air pollution caused by UK coal power stations is estimated to be responsible for 1,600 deaths per annum in the UK, according to the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAT).

Tussle over targets

Meanwhile, Britain’s government said it would stick with a goal to curb emissions by 2027 to 50 percent of the 1990 levels, a target that has led to political opposition and that its own advisers have said will be hard to meet.

The country has set binding targets for greenhouse gases over four five-year periods to 2027, known as carbon budgets, which aim to put it on track towards cutting emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by the middle of the century.

“Retaining the budget at its existing level provides certainty for businesses and investors by demonstrating government’s commitment to our long-term decarbonisation goals,” Ed Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said in a statement today.

The so-called fourth carbon budget, covering the period from 2023 to 2027, has been a subject of debate among some politicians, who argue for a weaker emissions cut target to prevent damage to the economy.

Government advisers also have said altering the goals will undermine investor confidence in low-carbon technology.

The government set out its fourth carbon budget in 2011 but said it would decide in 2014 whether the budget should be revised to reflect progress in cutting emissions in the European Union.

“Any revision now would be premature, especially in light of the ongoing negotiations in the EU to agree a domestic 40 percent GHG (greenhouse gas) reduction target for 2030 by October,” Davey said.

Last week, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said in a report to parliament that Britain risked missing the goals set in the fourth budget despite extensive reforms to its electricity market.

Originally published on Voice of Russia UK. 

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