Portugal Becomes Fourth EU Country to go Coal-Free

Portugal put an end to coal use nine years ahead of its targeted end in 2030, becoming the fourth country in the European Union to do so.

Portugal closed its final remaining coal plant over the weekend, becoming the fourth country in the European Union to do so. Portuguese environmental group Zero said in a statement that the Pego plant in central Portugal had been the country’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, noting that “freeing ourselves from the biggest source of greenhouse gases was a momentous day for Portugal.”

Portugal’s targeted end of the use of fossil fuels was 2030, so the country is nine years ahead of schedule. Belgium, Austria and Sweden were the first three European countries to have already stopped using the polluting material for power generation. 

“The challenge now is to ensure utilities do not make the mistake of replacing coal with fossil gas, or unsustainable biomass,” said Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director at Europe Beyond Coal.

“Ditching coal only to switch to the next worst fuel is clearly not an answer,” said Zero’s president Francisco Ferreira. “Instead, the focus should be on rapidly upscaling our renewable energy capacity in wind and solar.”

Portugal’s exit from coal comes after the European Commission announced it would be suing the country for failing to take action on poor air quality.

Image source: Industry Europe