Why we must quit coal

The coal industry stands in the way of a safe and healthy future for us all. From destructive mines to polluting stacks and toxic ash dumps, coal lays waste to our environment. Coal threatens our most basic needs: clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, and a safe climate.

Around the world Greenpeace helps communities fight back, and together we're winning! But we can't stop until we completely break free from coal, and embrace the 100 percent renewable energy future we must have.

Coal stokes global warming

Coal is a dying industry, and for good reason. Emissions from burning coal for heat and energy fuel global warming, making coal the single greatest threat to our climate. Coal mining is also a source of methane, a very potent global warming gas.

Thirsty coal deepens the global water crisis

The coal industry uses enough fresh water to meet the basic needs of one billion people. Yet we are already at risk of a global water supply crisis. Adding further strain on our water supplies, pollution from coal mines and coal plants contaminates groundwater and waterways.

Coal air pollution harms our health

Mining and burning coal release harmful pollutants into the air. These include mercury, fine pollution particles, and chemicals that form smog — all damaging to our health. Pollution from burning coal also leads to acid rain, which kills fish and plants and damages soils.

Coal lays waste to landscapes

Open-cut coal mining disturbs landscapes on a vast scale, destroying forests and scraping away soils. So severe is the damage, in most cases it cannot be repaired. When mines unearth and disturb rock and earth, toxic chemicals within can mix with water. This leads to acid main drainage, harmful to streams, soils, and plants, animals and people.

What is Greenpeace doing to fight coal?

Around the world, Greenpeace helps communities break free from coal and supports their shift to clean, safe solutions including renewable energy.

  • We campaign to close down coal power plants and prevent new ones being built.  We join forces with communities, support farmers driven from their land, and energise people-powered movements to stop the dirtiest coal projects.

  • We reveal the coal industry's true costs; the harm it does to our airwaterlands and health.

  • Greenpeace also exposes myths about false solutions, including expensive and unworkable carbon capture and storage.

  • We campaign to stop the flow of investment to coal and other dirty fossil fuel projects.

The latest updates


Greenpeace activist scales coal ship off the coast of Helsinki

Press release | 1 November, 2015 at 11:13

Baltic Sea/Helsinki, 1 November 2015 – A Greenpeace activist has scaled the 155m long bulk carrier, Alppila, transporting coal to one of Finland’s most polluting power plants in central Helsinki. The coal ship and its climate-damaging cargo have...

Justice denied: the Thai activist who risked all to save his environment

Blog entry | 22 October, 2015 1 comment

The recent Thai Supreme Court acquittal of three men who masterminded the murder of environmental activist Charoen Wat-aksorn, shows a skewed justice system that puts capitalism in front of community. But this is not the only case of...

Two tales of one village

Blog entry by Jan Beránek | 14 October, 2015 1 comment

A year ago this week, bulldozers from the coal company Kolin, under the cover of the night, invaded an olive grove in a small Turkish village and destroyed 6,000 trees to make space for a new coal fired power plant. That day in...

Urgent call from Pacific nations for dialogue on coal and climate change

Press release | 8 September, 2015 at 10:45

Port Moresby, 8 September 2015 - Unprecedented support from Pacific Island leaders for a global moratorium on new coal mines is a stark reminder that much more must be achieved at the Paris climate talks, said Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s CEO,...

After a reign of hundreds of years, it's time King Coal was de-throned

Blog entry by Joanna Mills | 31 August, 2015

It's true coal launched the industrial revolution, with all the benefits that it brought to humankind. But the cost has been huge – both in terms of human health and greenhouse gas emissions. Add to that mining accidents, local people...

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