21 October 2022

Repowering or Refiring: How to avoid that the EU RePower plan locking-in coal

Against the backdrop of Europe’s energy crisis, some commentators and even EU Member States are calling for a softer approach to dirty coal to compensate for shortages in fossil gas: the main driver of sky-high energy prices. But sliding back towards coal would be a catastrophic error. It is our historical reliance on volatile, damaging fossil fuels and the regimes that supply them that has created this mess in the first place. 

To consider fossil fuels as a solution is not only nonsensical, but also threatens to block the transformation to more energy-efficient societies based on the renewable energy solutions that we need to bring down energy bills, deliver peace and security, and preserve a safer climate.

Multiple models and studies have demonstrated that all Russian fossil fuels can be replaced by 2025 without new fossil fuel infrastructure or increased coal use. The war in Ukraine must not be used as an excuse to lock Europe into more coal combustion. 

This briefing points out the risks of a structural lock-in of coal as a consequence of our response to the war in Ukraine, highlights how to avoid it, and offers ways that Europe’s response to the war can tackle the root cause of the multiple crises we face – fossil fuel dependence.