Dismay after Czechia moves towards 2038 coal phase-out date

Green campaigners have warned that Czechia would be in breach of the Paris Agreement if it adopts the recommendations of its coal commission, which called on Friday for the fossil fuel to be phased out by 2038.

Members of the commission had put forward three coal exit deadlines – 2033, 2038 and 2043 – and ultimately settled on the middle path for their formal recommendation to the Czech government.

Anti-coal groups had warned that none of the options would put the country on track to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, citing economic studies showing that a coal phase-out by 2030 would be feasible.

Jiri Kozelouh, head of green organisation Hnuti DUHA and a member of the coal commission, expressed his disappointment at the vote.

“We need to phase out coal in the Czech Republic in the next decade if we’re to play our part in tackling the climate crisis,” he said. “The coal commission, which I am part of, could have been instrumental in this, but it’s wasted the opportunity by bowing to the coal lobby.”

Kozelouh urged the government to reject the recommendation and instruct the commission “to come back with a socially acceptable, economically viable, climate-respecting alternative”.

The 2038 date matches the timeline adopted by neighbouring Germany, which has faced relentless criticism over the slow pace of its coal phase-out plans. The federal network agency announced this week the first round of auctions to shut down hard coal capacity had been oversubscribed, with two of the country’s newest coal plants among those that won subsidies to close their doors next year.

“This week’s scramble to close two of Germany’s youngest, most modern coal plants should set off alarms in the minds of Czech coal commission members,” said Zala Primc, campaigner at Europe Beyond Coal. “A 2038 coal exit timetable is nonsense. The market’s appetite for cheaper renewables is accelerating coal’s demise by the day.”

Commenting prior to the official announcement, Alexander Ac, a member of a ‘shadow coal commission’ set up by people living near coal power stations, ecologists, energy experts and economists, said it had not taken into account Czechia’s renewable energy potential. “We recommend that the government commissions a study with more ambitious [renewables] goals, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030,” Ac said.

simon.pickstone@haymarket.com

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