IIDMA and Re:Common welcome the new Climate Change Law of the Balearic Islands, which puts an end to coal

The International Institute of Law and Environment (IIDMA) and the Italian organization Re:Common, present at the parliamentary vote on the new Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition of the Balearic Islands, consider its approval as excellent news in the fight against climate change and for public health. The organizations also hope that the Balearic Law will mark the path for the central government, with the Ministry for Ecological Transition at the helm, to officially announce 2025 as the end date of the use of coal for electricity production in Spain. The government has yet to present its Climate Change Law and the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), which should include a definitive closure date for all coal power plants. This should be the first step towards achieving a real energy transition and meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement. To achieve decarbonization by 2050, urgent action is also needed in other sectors, such as the transport sector.

The law has been passed less than a week after the agreement between the Government of Baleares, Endesa and the Ministry for the Ecological Transition proposing the closure of the coal power plant of Alcudia (Es Murterar), which foresees a just transition plan for the workers, who will be relocated. The plan provides for the closure of Units 1 and 2 by January 1, 2020, while Units 3 and 4 will operate with a time limit (1,500 hours per year until August 2021 and 500 hrs/year thereafter) until an alternative is established to secure the island’s electricity supply. This limitation of hours responds to the demands, foreseen in the document of reference of best available techniques for large combustion plants (Large Combustion Plants BREF) something that organizations such as the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), of which IIDMA is a member, have been following for years.

The agreement between the Government of Baleares, Endesa and the Central Government on Es Murterar will facilitate the application of the Balearic Law. The text of the Law contains the obligation to cease the operation of units 1 and 2 of the plant in 2020 and the other two in 2025. Thus, both organizations emphasize that, regardless of the fact that units 3 and 4 are going to reduce their number of operating hours, they cannot continue to operate indefinitely and that it is necessary to guarantee that their closure will take place, at the latest, in 2025.

In 2017, representatives of the Italian Government announced the end of coal by 2025. Therefore, all coal-fired power plants owned by Enel, Endesa’s main shareholder, will have to close by that date. Enel needs to adopt similar policies in both countries and agree to terminate all Endesa’s coal power plants by the same date. Spokespersons for IIDMA and Re:Common were present at the last AGMs of Enel in May 2017, and in May 2018 to ask for a clear calendar for the closure of its coal power plants, a necessary step to meet the electric power plant’s goal of being “carbon neutral” by 2050.  Likewise, the “Un Futuro Sin Carbon” Spanish Platform (part of Europe Beyond Coal) made similar requests to Endesa in July and November 2018, demanding the closure of all its coal-fired plants by 2025.

“IIDMA has been working since 2015 to put an end to coal-fired electricity production in Spain by 2025, which is imperative to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. This date, included in the Balearic Law, approved today, must also be included in the NECP prepared by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition. We also hope that the agreement on Es Murterar will serve as an example for other companies to close the necessary agreements to ensure that the closure of their coal power plants is a reality, including the adoption of measures to ensure a just transition of their workers,” says Carlota Ruiz-Bautista, lawyer of IIDMA.

“Finally, Enel and Endesa begin to listen to local administrations and civil society in Spain. Today’s agreement is a step in the right direction, but much remains to be done, starting with the establishment of 2025 as the closing date for all Endesa plants, including units 3 and 4 in Alcudia,” says Antonio Tricarico, spokesman for Re:Common.

Coal emissions pose an enormous risk to the environment and health, with up to 7,600 premature deaths and 22,000 million euros in healthcare costs in Europe, according to the LastGasp report prepared by Europe Beyond Coal (EBC), a network of European organizations to which the Spanish platform “Un Futuro Sin Carbón” belongs.

*Image of the Es Murterar thermal power station courtesy of Europe Beyond Coal.

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