08 Feb The Balearic Islands fight climate change agreeing to end coal
The environmental organizations IIDMA (Spain) and Re:Common (Italy) consider the agreement reached between the regional Government, Endesa (whose main shareholder is Enel) and the Ministry for the Ecological Transition to be excellent news in the fight against climate change as well as for public health.
The agreement proposes the progressive closure of the coal plant Alcudia accompanied by a just transition plan for the workers, who will be relocated. The plan provides for the closure of Groups 1 and 2 by January 1, 2020, while Groups 3 and 4 will operate with a time limit (1,500 per year until August 2021 and 500 thereafter), until an alternative is established to secure the island’s electricity supply.
The agreement will facilitate the implementation of the future Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition of the Balearic Islands, which is still pending approval. The text of the bill contains the obligation to cease the operation of groups 1 and 2 of the plant in 2020 and the other two in 2025. Thus, both organizations emphasize that, regardless of whether groups 3 and 4 are going to reduce their number of hours of operation, they cannot continue to operate indefinitely and that it is necessary to ensure that their closure takes place, at the latest, in 2025.
Spokespersons for IIDMA and Re:Common were present at the last Shareholders’ Meetings of Enel, Endesa’s main shareholder, in May 2017 and 2018 to request a clear timetable for the closure of its coal plants, a necessary step to meet Enel group’s objective of being “carbon neutral” by 2050. Likewise, the Spanish platform “Un Futuro Sin Carbón” made similar requests to Endesa in July 2018, demanding the closure of all its coal-fired power plants by 2025.
“IIDMA has been working since 2015 to put an end to coal-fired electricity production in Spain by 2025, which is mandatory in order to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. We hope that the agreement reached today will also serve as an example for other companies, which must follow this lead and ensure that the closure of their thermal power plants becomes a reality, including adopting measures to guarantee a just transition for their workers,” says Ana Barreira, director 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 Groups 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 organisations to which the Spanish platform “Un Futuro Sin Carbón” belongs.
*Image of the Es Murterar coal power plant courtesy of Europe Beyond Coal.