The downward spiral for Europe’s coal industry continued this week, with Belgium becoming the latest country to rid itself of the dirty energy source.
With the closure of the country’s last coal-fired power station, Langerlo, on 30 March, the once coal-dependant Belgium is hot-on-the-heels of Scotland’s abandonment of coal, becoming the seventh EU nation to kick the dirty habit.
With a heavy nuclear dependency and proposals to converting Langerlo into a biomass-plant, the spotlight is now on the country to support its bustling renewables industry.
Australia, for example, continues to pursue new mines at drastic cost to taxpayers, while Poland, Turkey and Japan look to burn even more coal, risking growing international condemnation, and facing years of dealing with the inevitable damage to their economy, health and communities.
- Plant closures show that the European coal is in terminal decline. Belgium is the latest EU country to quit coal, following Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, the Baltic countries and Scotland. The UK and Austria have plans to get out of coal by 2025, and Portugal has similar aims by 2020. Those who quickly rid themselves of coal will stay ahead of the game, while those lingering at the toxic party will find themselves losing out.
- Quitting coal makes communities healthier and wealthier. Coal power stations are responsible 18,200 premature deaths and health problems valued at up to €43 billion each year, while the industry continues to exacerbate the world’s deepening water crisis. As coal production hits record lows, plants sit idle and major players file for bankruptcy, countries clinging to this volatile fuel are gambling their bottom lines and their citizens lives.
- The industry’s desperate attempts to stay relevant are fooling no-one. While the coal industry continues to pretend it is part of the solution, its misleading rhetoric is failing to hit the mark and leaving billions of people without access to electricity. By ending the use of coal and supporting the booming renewables sector countries could boost energy access and provide greener, healthier jobs.