The journey to a coal free Europe is one step closer after Italy joined the growing list of countries that have promised to phase out coal in the coming years.

The announcement from the Italian government that all its coal plants will close by 2025 mirrors similar commitments by Portugal, Finland, France, the Netherlands and the UK.

Christian Schaible, Senior Policy Officer for Industrial Emissions at the European Environmental Bureau, said:

“Closing coal power plants is not just an important step towards reducing CO2 emissions, it’s also crucial to reduce the health-harming air pollution that’s suffocating our cities. After the announcement in Italy, attention turns to the last coal-burning countries in Europe, especially Germany.”

Italy’s commitment came just days before the launch of ‘Europe Beyond Coal’, a new alliance of groups concerned about the impact of Europe’s dirtiest fuel on people’s health, the climate, and the environment.

Europe Beyond Coal will work with concerned citizens, national and regional authorities, businesses, banks and investors to speed up coal plant closures and redirect investments towards renewable energy.

At the launch of the campaign at a major coal and climate march attended by 25,000 people in Bonn, campaign director Kathrin Gutmann said:

“Momentum is building for Europe to be coal free by 2030, and we’re coming together to make it happen, and happen sooner.”

New research released by the campaign reveals the extent of damage caused by EU coal plants, which include an estimated 19,500 premature deaths and 41,000 cases of chronic bronchitis in children every year.

The economic costs are equally alarming, with taxpayers left to pick up the bill. Related health costs now currently amount to over €54 billion a year. Doctors and scientists have warned that support for coal in one country is a health and climate risk for all.

Europe Beyond Coal will track existing and planned coal plants and model their impacts using official data. It will present the facts to concerned citizens, national and regional decision makers, energy companies, banks and investors in order to facilitate a move away from coal and into clean renewable energy.

At the core of its strategy is support for communities in the transition to healthier lives, cleaner air, cheaper electricity and new, green jobs. The campaign is urging all EU governments to put forward concrete plans to phase out coal before the 2018 international climate meeting in Katowice, Poland.

A similar sister campaign by the Sierra Club in the US has been running for years, and has led to 262 announced coal plant closures so far, progress which has continued in spite of the Trump administration’s pro-coal agenda.

The EEB has already been playing a central role in the build up to the public launch of Europe Beyond Coal, providing expert technical advice and working closely with partners including Greenpeace, WWF, CAN, HEAL and ClientEarth.

You can find more information about Europe Beyond Coal at: www.beyond-coal.eu.