For the first time ever, the Czech government mentioned a coal phaseout date: 2038.
We are approaching the end of the year and accordingly the deadline for submitting the coal phaseout date in Czechia. Officially, the Coal Commission has not come up with a final date yet and has not met the obligation to provide the final materials by the end of September 2020.
However, this week the Minister of Industry and Trade, Karel Havlíček, gave a public statement to the media that “most likely, the coal phaseout will be 2038 but the final decision hasn’t been made yet.” This is the most tangible piece of information leaked outside of the closed doors of the Coal Commission negotiations since it was established last year.
Throughout the year, the Czech coal phaseout planning has been delayed and negotiations repeatedly postponed mainly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission only got back to its agenda in the beginning of June 2020 when the members met in Prunéřov on the occasion of the closing ceremony of one of the most polluting coal power plants (about which we informed here).
The following few months did not bring any further clarity about the final phaseout date and, while the Just Transition Fund and the new European climate target were being discussed in Brussels, the Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš and the Minister of Industry and Trade were both publicly vocal about their opinions. To give enough context about the atmosphere in which the phaseout negotiations are being held – the Czech government claims that cutting emissions by more than 45% until 2030 is not doable in Czechia. The Minister of the Environment also said at the Coal Commission plenary in August that “the year 2040 is too late [for the phaseout] but anything before 2030 cannot be achieved.”
Currently, the Czech Coal Commission is so behind schedule that members of grassroot organisations, academia and representatives of the municipalities established a Shadow Coal Commission of their own. They are trying to push topics which the official Coal Commission is not paying much attention to – the involvement of local communities in the discussions about the coal phaseout and the Territorial Just Transition Plans, employment and requalification of the workers in the fossil industry and the overall transparency of the processes.
The next plenary meeting of the Coal Commission is scheduled for October 20th, where the debate about different phaseout scenarios will continue. A late phaseout, as suggested by Havlíček, will not secure the sought stability for the Czech energy market. The process of phasing out coal over such a long stretch of time would require frequent and major future adjustments when politics and market conditions change over time. Needles to say that phasing out coal by 2038 is not in line with the European climate target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons – Bílina mine in north-west Czechia https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Velkostroj,_Lom_B%C3%ADlina,_hn%C4%9Bdouheln%C3%BD_d%C5%AFl.jpg