MEPs vote to ban dirty coal-fired power plants

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Publish date: October 7, 2008

Written by: Eivind Hoff

BRUSSELS - In a landmark vote today, the European Parliament’s environment committee voted in favour of a proposal that will effectively ban new coal-fired power plants that emit CO2. Bellona hails the courageous committee vote.

“This vote is crucial to prevent run-away global warming. It will force utilities to invest in CO2 capture and storage if they want to build new coal-fired power plants,” said Eivind Hoff of Bellona Europa.

“Bellona has been engaged intensively in formulating the text supported by MEPs (Members of European Parliament) today, and we have lobbied heavily to secure today’s outcome,” said Hoff.

“We had to overcome significant fear amongst MEPs in countries that rely on coal, so we are very pleased with today’s outcome.”

Californian dreamin’ now a European reality

The environment committee adopted an amendment to the proposed directive on geological storage of CO2 that puts a ceiling – 500 grams – on how much CO2 can be emitted per kilowatt-hour (kWh) generated.

This is known as an “emission performance standard” and follows the leadership of the US state of California, which introduced an identical limit in 2007. The EU emission performance standard will force new coal-fired power plants to capture and store their CO2, a process known CO2 capture and storage, or CCS.

This emission ceiling will apply to any new construction or operating licenses for power plants after 2015. It relies on the successful demonstration at full scale of CCS in power generation, which is expected by 2012-14.

Fighting new coal plants until 2015
“We would have preferred an earlier date for the introduction of the ceiling, so that we avoid a rush of new coal plants being built before 2015, but the most important is that the a clear roadmap for phasing out conventional coal now has a chance to be adopted,” said Hoff. 

bodytextimage_Eivind-cut.jpg Photo: (Foto: Bellona)

“We will find other ways to stop new coal plants from being built until a ceiling enters into force,” Hoff added, referring to a recent acquittal by a UK court of six Greenpeace volunteers for – briefly – closing down the coal-fired Kingsnorth power station in Kent through civil disobedience.

The aim of the EU is to adopt the proposed directive on geological storage of CO2 in first reading by the end of the year. The Parliament’s rapporteur Chris Davies will now have to convince the Council and EU Member States that polluting coal has no future before the European Parliament takes a formal position in a plenary vote in early December.

For further information, please contact:

Eivind Hoff: +32 473 48 05 56

Paal Frisvold: +32 473 97 87 60