Portugal becomes the 4th country in Europe to quit coal

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Environmentalists on Monday welcomed the shutdown of Portugal’s last coal-fired power plant – a move that came nearly nine years ahead of the government’s 2030 target – while warning against converting the facility so that ‘it works with unsustainable biofuels.

“Ditching coal just for the next worst fuel is clearly not the answer.”

Reuters reports the Pego power plant in Abrantes, which was responsible for 4% of Portugal’s carbon emissions, depleted its stock of coal on Friday, making Saturday the first day in the country’s history where electricity has been produced without fossil fuels.

By shuttering the installation, Portugal has fulfilled a commitment it did with 18 other countries at the 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP23 – to phase out coal-fired power plants.

“Freeing ourselves from our biggest source of greenhouse gases is an important day for Portugal”, Francisco Ferreira, president of the environmental group Zero, Recount the Associated press On Monday.

With the dismantling of Pego, Portugal becomes the fourth European country after Austria, Belgium and Sweden to do without coal. As the nation of 10 million people generates up to 70% of its electricity comes from renewable sources, it remain strongly dependent on imported fossil fuels to meet all of its energy needs.

According to the End Coal coalition, fossil fuel is responsible for more than 800,000 premature deaths worldwide and millions of additional illnesses annually.

While cheering for Portugal’s fossil fuel milestone, climate activists warned of the dangers of converting the Pego plant to burn wood pellets, with Zero’s Ferreira Warning that the country’s achievement is “embittered by the prospect of the factory being converted to burn forests.”

“Giving up coal just to move on to the next worst fuel is clearly not the answer,” he said.

In a statement, Zero Recount Newspaper of Noticias that “the future of the Pego plant must not pass through the combustion of biomass, an inefficient option which calls into question more ambitious objectives of climate change mitigation”.

Kathrin Gutmann, Campaign Director at Europe Beyond Coal, noted in a statement that “Portugal is the perfect example of how once a country commits to phasing out coal, the pace of phase-out inevitably picks up. renewables are so important that once started it makes sense to move out of coal as quickly as possible. “

“The challenge now is to ensure that utilities don’t make the mistake of replacing coal with fossil gas or unsustainable biomass,” she added. “Instead, the focus should be on rapidly increasing our renewable energy capacity in wind and solar.”


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