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Tracking OECD and EU Coal Transition Progress

E3G’s Coal Transition Progress Ranking of OECD & EU Countries charts the increasing momentum for the transition away from coal power generation since 2015.  

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Demolition of Richborough Power Station in the UK. Image via Shirokazan
Demolition of Richborough Power Station in the UK. Image via Shirokazan

Click through the years on the interactive graphic to see the Coal Transition Progress, the growth of coal phase out commitments and the decline of new coal proposals. Commentary follows below, which will be updated as new developments occur.

     

The ranking format combines data on existing and planned coal capacity; electricity generation trends; and national government commitments and policy actions. Coal-free countries are at the top, with stragglers still considering new coal power plants at the bottom. Countries are then ordered by intended year of phase out commitment. 

When the Paris Agreement was negotiated in 2015, the UK was the sole national government to have committed to phasing out coal power generation while 15 OECD & EU countries still had new coal power plants proposed.  

In the six years since then, both cancellations and retired capacity have more than doubled, while the pipeline of pre-construction projects has shrunk by almost 85%. Coal capacity in operation has also decreased by 17% over the same period. Belgium, Sweden, Austria and Portugal have all now ceased using coal power generation.  

As of January 2022, 15 countries are committed to phasing out coal power by 2030, with a further 7 countries having an exit date during the 2030s. Both Germany and Chile have announced that they will accelerate their end dates to 2030. The USA, Poland, and South Korea are all edging closer to confirming a coal exit, but not yet fully committed. Just 5 OECD & EU countries have not signalled some kind of intended end date for coal power generation (Mexico, Australia, Colombia, Turkey, and Japan). 

Annual highlights – Coal Transition Progress

2022 

January – the new government of Czechia commits to 2033 coal phase out date, as does Slovenia. 

2021 

December – Portugal completes its coal phase out, 9 years earlier than originally announced; the new Germany government announces it aims to accelerate coal phase out from 2038 to 2030. 

November – Poland and South Korea sign up to the COP26 Coal to Clean Statement but then clarify that they are not yet committed to coal exit in the 2030s; Chile joins the PPCA and announces it will accelerate its coal exit from 2040 to 2030; John Kerry signals that the US expects to be out of coal by around 2030; Mexico’s utility company states that it won’t build a new coal plant; Turkey’s deputy minister says new coal is unlikely in 2022. 

September – Norway’s tiny coal power plant to be switched off from 2023. 

July – Spain and Croatia join PPCA. 

June – G7 members agree to overwhelmingly decarbonise power systems in mid-2030s. 

2020  

Sweden and Austria complete their coal phase outs; across the OECD and EU 20GW of operational capacity are retired this year, while 21GW of new projects are cancelled. 

2019  

Greece, Slovakia, and Hungary all announce coal phase out commitments; Germany completes its Coal Commission process and is the first Top 10 coal user to become a member of the PPCA; Chile announces an intended 2040 coal exit timeframe; The Netherlands confirms a 2029 end date. 

2018  

Ireland announces a 2025 coal exit date; in New Zealand the utility company Genesis postpones the final end date of coal use in its last remaining units. 

2017  

The Powering Past Coal Alliance launches at COP23 with 16 OECD and EU countries among its members. Sweden, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, and the Netherlands all committed to coal phase out. 

2016  

Canada, France, Austria, Finland make national commitments, Belgium became the first country to complete the retirement of all coal power generation. 

2015  

The UK is the first national government to commit to phase out coal power generation, with a 2025 date.

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