29 January 2018

France to shut down all its coal plants two years early

During the World Economic Forum in Davos the French President Emmanuel Macron announced that all the country’s coal-fired plants will shut down by 2021- 2 years earlier than initially planned.

The initial pledge had been made by Mr. Macron’s predecessor Francois Hollande in November 2016 during COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco. There, he pledged to decommission all France’s coal plants by 2023 and he also vowed to make France carbon neutral by 2050.

President Macron accelerated the timetable for the country’s coal phase out as he has committed to making France a model in the fight against climate change.

He also strongly advocated for the advantages and the economic benefits climate action is offering, as, for example, coal plants are not only an environmental burden from the moment that clean energy technologies are evidently more cost competitive. 

According to a recent report from the Carbon Tracker, a London-based think tank on the impact of climate change to the financial markets, more than 50 percent of the European Union’s 619 coal-fired plants are losing money- a figure set to rise to 97 percent by 2030.

Rapidly falling renewable energy costs, stricter air pollution regulations and higher carbon prices are some of the reasons fossil fuels are increasingly outpriced by clean energy technologies. 

France is only approximately 1 percent energy dependent from coal-fired stations. However, the French president seeks to send a strong signal about the country’s determination to become a climate leader. This is particularly directed towards US president Donald Trump, who strives to revive the United States’ coal industry, and withdrew the country from the Paris Agreement.

The French president also called for the EU to set a stable carbon price which will send the right signals to the energy market.

In regards to his meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping, President Macron saluted the country’s commitment to the fight against climate change. In a comment about the gigantic infrastructure project aiming to connect China with the European continent, he noted: “The new Silk Road has to be a green road. We cannot have a coal-based route”. 

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