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28/09/2016

Brussels authorises subsidies to end dependence on coal

Energy

Brussels authorises subsidies to end dependence on coal

Spain will subsidise the closure of 26 coal mines.

[Jennifer Woodard Maderazo/Flickr]

The EU has approved nearly €4 billion in subsidies to close down Spain’s unprofitable coal mines and Germany’s lignite-fired power stations. EurActiv’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

Europe is forging ahead with the decarbonisation of its economy.  Last Friday (27 May), the European Commission authorised Spain and Germany to subsidise the closure of significant parts of their coal sectors.

Brussels gave Madrid the green light to spend €2.1 billion closing 26 coal mines that are no longer profitable. This state aid will be permitted on the condition that the closure of the mines is completed by 2019.

“The Spanish authorities have given a commitment to recover any aid from mines that have not been closed by that date,” the Commission said in a statement.

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In Germany, Brussels has authorised the government to subsidise the closure of power stations fuelled by lignite, a soft form of sedimentary rock often known as ‘brown coal’.

Merkel’s cabinet negotiated the closure of eight lignite-burning installations owned by Mibrag, Vattenfall and RWE between 2016 and 2019. Together, these eight power stations represent 13% of Germany’s lignite-burning capacity.

By 2020, the closure of these power stations cut the annual carbon emissions of Germany’s electricity sector by 11 to 12 million tonnes. In return, the federal government in Berlin will compensate the electricity companies to the tune of €1.6 billion for their loss of revenue.

In another press release, the Commission concluded that “the effects of the measure on the electricity market are expected to be limited and that potential distortions of competition created by the aid are largely offset by the environmental benefits”.

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G7 takes on powerful greenhouse gasses

At their summit in Japan last week (26-27 May), the heads of state and government of the G7 committed to publishing their 2050 climate strategy “well ahead of the 2020 deadline”.

The world’s seven richest countries committed to facilitating the adoption of the Dubai amendment to the Montreal Protocol on HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons), which have a greenhouse effect up to 15,000 times stronger than carbon dioxide. The G7 leaders also committed to eliminating subsidies to “inefficient” fossil fuels by 2025 and encouraged other countries to do the same.

Finally, they called on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to establish a carbon market for civil aviation this year.

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