EU coal subsidy phase-out ‘completely inconsistent with Paris deal’

greenpeace activists block the street leading to the eu council headquarters in brussels last week
Greenpeace activists block the street leading to the EU council headquarters in Brussels last week. Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

Stay of execution for coal subsidies has been heavily criticised by climate analysts

—  An EU deal to slowly phase out coal subsidies is “completely inconsistent” with the bloc’s Paris climate agreement commitments, analysts say.

Marathon negotiations ended early on Wednesday with a benchmark CO2 emissions standard of 550 grams per kWh for all European power plants by 2025. But coal-dependent Poland secured a loophole allowing countries another year to negotiate new “capacity mechanisms” that would be exempted from the deadline.

It could allow subsidies to keep unprofitable coal plants running until 2035, five years beyond a projected cut-off for meeting the Paris goals.

Bill Hare, the director of the Climate Analytics thinktank and a former Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change lead author, told the Guardian: “Continued support for coal as just agreed by the EU is completely inconsistent with meeting the Paris agreement goals and in particular with limiting warming to 1.5°C [above pre-industrial levels].”

“It appears to be a de facto rejection of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finding that coal needs to exit the power sector rapidly. In the EU this means by 2030.”

Greenpeace said the stay of execution for coal subsidies showed many EU governments were still not serious about climate action.

After the deal was signed, the EU’s climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, tweeted: “A more flexible market will facilitate the integration of more renewables. We also limit capacity mechanisms and #support550 to move #BeyondCoal. #CleanEnergyEU completed.”

The European parliament’s chief negotiator in the talks, the MEP Krišjānis Kariņš, said the deal “will help the transformation to cleaner electricity production and it will open up more competition in electricity across the EU border – good for the climate and good for the wallet”.

Europe is committed to a goal of limiting global warming to “well below 2°C” and has pledged to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by at least 40% by 2030. Last month, Cañete himself launched an EU strategy for achieving “climate neutrality” by 2050 in order to reach the UN’s 1.5°C target.

Florent Marcellesi, a Green MEP involved in the talks, said the delayed introduction of the emissions standard was “a free licence to go on polluting despite the impact on climate and public health”. It was also insufficient to meet the EU’s Paris climate goals, he said.

by Arthur Neslen | The Guardian