The announcement of increased use of coal in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands raised concerns in the European Commission and environmental entities, which warn of the risk of a derailment of the climate ambitions of the European Union (EU).
“We have to take advantage of this crisis to move forward” in the energy transition “without going back to fossil fuels,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview with several European newspapers published on Tuesday.
“It is delicate to find the balance,” warned the German official.
The Netherlands decided on Monday to completely lift restrictions on coal-fired power generation, while Germany and Austria announced on Sunday they would make more use of coal to offset falling Russian gas deliveries to Europe.
“It is a bad option, the consequence of a decade of delay and abandonment. States have continued to bet on fossil fuels instead of investing enough in renewables,” said Neil Makaroff, of Réseau Action Climat (RAC), a federation of environmental NGOs.
“The risk is to replace one dependency with another, to import Colombian or Australian coal, US or Qatari liquefied natural gas, to replace Russian hydrocarbons,” he told AFP, expressing his concern that “these conjunctural setbacks are becoming structural.”
“This is worrying, even if it is not about new investments in coal but about reopening or making greater use of existing plants,” said Sam Van den plas, of the NGO Carbon Market Watch.
“The challenge is how these countries will continue to be able to meet their plans to phase out coal” and their CO2 emission reduction trajectory, because “if there are more emissions from burning coal, other industries will have to reduce theirs.” even more,” he said.
Mark Breddy, of Greenpeace Europe, pointed out that “wanting coal to save us from a crisis caused mainly by fossil fuels is like banging your head against a wall to cure a migraine.”
According to him, the priority must be to drastically reduce electricity needs because “enormous amounts of energy are wasted, from industry to agriculture, from transportation to precariously insulated homes.”