Climate demonstration in Cologne, Germany on 1 December 2018. Sign says "put your coal somwhere else". Photo: Flickr.com / Campact CC BY-NC
Editorial: Call for Europe to phase out coal by 2025
As a result of the latest extremely alarming scientific findings from the IPCC and WMO, all European countries need to stop using coal for energy production by 2025 and thus avoid large emissions of carbon dioxide (see article). All other greenhouse gases should be phased out by 2040 at the latest. Political leaders from the whole of Europe must meet in 2019 in the EU, in the Council of Europe and UNECE to decide about the steps needed to phase out coal power plants by 2025 and launch a new emergency action programme for energy efficiency, energy saving and renewable energy for the whole of Europe.
Renewable energy is now the cheapest form of energy production (see article). A new equivalent of the Marshall Plan for Europe could be decided during 2019 which would mobilise finances, put in place a social adaptation programme for workers in the coal industry and initiate a renewable energy revolution investment programme that will give people all over Europe, especially young people, new hope that the threat of dangerous climate change can be solved. This would have many valuable co-benefits, including drastically reducing air pollution, protecting and supporting the beauty of nature through reforestation, and enhancing biodiversity. In this issue of Acid News is a link to a list of coal power stations in Europe ranked by plant age and carbon dioxide emissions, as well as a proposal indicating which power plants should be closed by which date over the next seven years. Rich countries must take the lead and start the closure process immediately. Germany need to decide in the next weeks to phase out coal by 2025 under the coal commission that has been negotiating a coal phase-out plan for several months now.
It is now scientifically very clear that a global temperature increase has to stay below 1.5°C, otherwise catastrophic climate change effects will occur for many people worldwide and for several global ecosystems on land and in the oceans. The WMO recently said that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 as today was 3–5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2–3°C warmer and the sea level was 10–20 metres higher than now. The IPCC 1.5°C report warns, for example, that at above 1.5°C up to 90 per cent of coral reef systems could vanish. These ecosystems contain 25–30 per cent of the biodiversity in the oceans. A study by the World Wide Fund for Nature has just reported that humanity has globally, on average, wiped out 60 per cent of animal populations and more than 85 per cent in North, Central and South America since 1970. Any temperature rise beyond the current 1–1.5°C will further increase species extinction. Forest protection and sustainable land use in Europe must help to protect species and take up CO2, and Europe need to decide on a forest protection action programme during 2019.
Climate Action Network Europe is demanding net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2040 (see front page). Rich countries in Europe, such as Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Austria, France, the UK and the Netherlands, must take the lead and reach net-zero much earlier. The member organisations of AirClim demand that Sweden should reach net-zero by 2030 and that this target should be reached without the use of nuclear energy and CCS for fossil fuels. All European governments have been aware of the threat of climate change since the first and second World Climate Conferences in
Geneva in 1979 and 1989, the Global 2000 Report of the US government in 1980 and the UN Brundtland Report in 1987. Fifty years have gone by; there is absolutely no excuse for European governments not to act forcefully now!