2017-11-02 Europe Beyond Coal
Greg McNevin, Communications Director, Europe Beyond Coal; Tel: +49 174 565 9356 (Germany)
Kathrin Gutmann, Campaign Director, Europe Beyond Coal; Tel: + 49 (0) 1577 836 3036
Greig Aitken, Coal campaigner, BankTrack; Tel: +420 607084093
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To combat the worsening impacts of climate change and air pollution, civil society groups across 28 nations – including BankTrack – are today launching Europe Beyond Coal, a collective campaign to catalyse and hasten the move away from coal and towards clean renewable energy.
Underscoring the need for this urgent shift, new health impact modelling released by the campaign shows that in 2015 the EU’s coal fleet alone was responsible for an estimated 19,500 premature deaths and 10,000 cases of chronic bronchitis in adults. The health costs of coal are equally staggering, with up to 54 billion euros in the same one year period. 
"Momentum is building for Europe to be coal free by 2030, and civil society is coming together to make it happen, and happen sooner," said Kathrin Gutmann, Europe Beyond Coal Campaign Director. "For nations to meet their commitments under the Paris climate agreement and to protect the wellbeing of its citizens, coal plants need to be closing far faster than they currently are. A coal plant in any one country is a liability for all of Europe, and our planet as a whole."
"We’re calling on governments, cities, companies, banks and investors to cement their plans to move out of coal before the 2018 international climate meeting in Katowice, Poland. The UN climate meeting starting in Bonn next week is an excellent opportunity for additional, ambitious commitments to phase out coal," said Gutmann.
Since 2016, Europe Beyond Coal groups  have helped retire 16 coal plants across Europe, and 39 more are to close, with the governments of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Finland, France, Portugal and Italy all committing these countries to being coal-free by 2030 at the latest. The campaign is focussing its efforts on turning these government coal phase out announcements into actions, and hastening the closure of Europe’s 293 remaining plants.
Concrete plans are particularly pertinent for countries like Germany, whose coal use is making it the worst greenhouse gas polluter in Europe and preventing it from meeting its climate objectives. Germany’s coal plants were responsible for an estimated 3,800 premature deaths and up to 10.5 billion euros in health costs inside and outside its borders in 2015.
Europe Beyond Coal groups are urging the new German government and all European countries dragging their feet on coal to stop backing coal utilities at home and in Brussels; to commit to coal phase-outs that ensure a fair and equitable transition for impacted workers and coal dependent regions; and to put their full weight behind a European-wide transition to a clean, renewable energy system.
Johan Frijns, director of BankTrack, said:
"In the past two years, we’ve seen some of Europe’s top banks start to end some of their financing for the coal sector, but they now have to go decisively further if their investments are supposed to be supporting and not undermining the objectives of the Paris Agreement. We need to see all European banks stopping financing for new coal mines and coal plants, not only in Europe, but around the world. And we need these banks to put pressure on the utilities they finance so that these companies themselves stop building new coal plants, and retire their existing coal plant fleet quickly enough to align with a 1.5 degrees Celsius world.
"The Europe Beyond Coal campaign will increase the collective pressure on European banks so that they deliver these phase out plans as quickly as possible."
Notes for editors:
1. More analysis and detailed data available at www.beyond-coal.eu/data/. We have the most complete, comprehensive, up-to-date set of data on the entire European coal power plant fleet, covering all EU-28, Western Balkans, and Turkey. All information comes from a combination of official sources and national campaign groups and is provided in an open source, “share alike” format.
2. Countries where Europe Beyond Coal groups are active: Albania, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,Turkey, United Kingdom.