The Swedish government is in the spotlight today with calls for it to stop state-owned Vattenfall’s “dirty deal” to sell its German lignite – or brown coal – assets.
Czech energy company EPH and its financial partner PPF Investments, agreed to buy Vattenfall’s loss-making lignite coal mines and associated power plants.
Vattenfall is expected to incur up to €2.9 billion in losses from the sale.
A previously strong supporter of the clean energy transition, campaigners are urging the Swedish government to block the sale, saying that “getting the dirtiest of fossil fuel off Vattenfall’s books is not going to clean Sweden’s hands”.
Instead, they urge the government to hold onto and close down its mines. Next month, thousands of people will be putting their bodies on the line for this aim, as they attempt to bring Vattenfall’s coal operations in the Lusatia region of Germany to a halt.
- Swedish, and European citizens are the ones paying the price for dirty coal. Last year alone, Swedish taxpayers, had to bear over €1.6 billion in losses associated with Vattenfall’s German lignite business. Meanwhile, citizens across Europe continue to pay the price for coal, including billions in clean-up and health costs. Companies continuing to bet on coal – such as the Czech company buying Vattenfall’s assets – are gambling not only their future, but that of European citizens.
- By selling Vattenfall’s assets, the Swedish government would just be shifting emissions. One of the world’s dirtiest fuels, lignite is a “massive threat” to Europe’s decarbonisation, and Vattenfall’s plants in the Lausitz region are responsible for the same level of emissions as the whole of Sweden. Only by holding onto its mines, and closing them down will Sweden be able to keep its coal in the ground and halt the environmental devastation this industry leaves in its wake.
- Citizens are calling for an end to this “dirty deal”. The vast majority of Swedes oppose continued lignite mining, and next month, thousands of people will halt operations in the Lusatia region as part of a global day of action against dirty energy. As country after country turns it’s back on coal, and companies betting on the volatile fuel finding themselves increasingly in trouble, the pressure is now on the Swedish government to “put the brakes on today’s sale” and keep Vattenfall’s coal in the ground.