Finland announces move to ban coal one year earlier than planned

Finland had initially planned to phase out coal power by 2030, but the move toward clean energy is going much quicker than expected.

As climate change threatens the world, multiple nations are rushing to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources that will reduce humanity’s carbon footprint. In fact, we have ten years to dramatically change the way we generate energy in an effort to stave off looming catastrophe.

Along with several other European countries, Finland passed a plan in 2016 requiring the phase-out of coal. Nearly three years later, the Nordic country has announced that all of the work has paid off as the phase-out is now scheduled to be completed a year sooner in 2029, and legislation has been passed to back up the target date.

“It has been planned for quite some time,” Finnish Parliament’s commerce committee senior adviser Lauri Tenhunen said. “Yesterday it was approved. The effective date is May 1, 2029. It is a legislation to ban the energy use of coal.”

Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis Energy Finance Consultant Gerard Wynn praised the progress being made across the European continent.

“Already, most EU member states have banned new coal power plants,” Wynn said. “By approving a coal phase-out plan, Finland joins 10 other EU countries planning to eliminate existing coal power plants as well. France and Sweden lead coal phase-out plans in 2022, followed by Austria, Ireland, Italy, and Britain in 2025, and then Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Portugal. Besides government-led coal phase-out plans, coal utilities face other headwinds including the falling cost of renewables and rising carbon prices, as well as pressure from investors, creditors and insurers. That could see coal come off the grid much sooner than expected in other countries, for example in Germany which recently agreed a phase-out by 2038 at the latest.”

Indeed, the United Kingdom recently completed a full week without using coal fired power plants for the first time since 1882, a major feat in our energy hungry society.

But while 2029 is a better target date than 2030, Greenpeace Nordic’s Olli Tiainen is urging Finland to do better.

“We are happy that the coal ban is finally true,” Tiainen said. “2029 is however not fast enough but it is definitely the right direction. This opens up the possibility to ban other fossil fuels as well and the next step is to ensure that this will happen. At the same time, we want to make sure that coal is not replaced only with biomass as it is not climate-neutral and poses a threat to Finnish biodiversity. When we do that, phase out coal without replacing it with biomass, we truly can show the rest of the world how to decarbonize the heating sector since the main product of all the coal plants we have left in Finland are mainly producing district heat.”

Humanity still has a long way to go to achieve a complete switch to clean renewable energy. As Europe tries to lead the way, the United States continues to go backward as the coal industry tries to hang on. But the wave of the future is upon us, and it’s becoming more clear every day that the superior energy sources are those that don’t poison the planet and coal’s days are numbered.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.
 

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