Greenpeace takes action against German and Dutch coal plans

Feature story - 19 March, 2008
Europe stands on the verge of a great opportunity. Its fleet of power stations, built thirty years ago is reaching the end of its life. With climate change an undeniable threat, this is a once in a lifetime chance to turn our back on fossil fuels and embrace the energy revolution. A revolution which could bring greenhouse gas emissions under control, and help prevent catastrophic climate change.

Activists plant 2,008 trees on the construction site of the new E.ON coal power plant in Maasvlakte, near Rotterdam. Ironically today is the, "national day for planting a tree", sponsored by E.ON.

A shame then that the power companies who could do most to support that shift are doing their best to secure another thirty years of business as usual.

Netherlands - trees against coal

In the Netherlands, German power company E.ON plan to build a new coal fired power station, another four are also planned by other utilities. Last week Greenpeace won an injunction halting the construction from going ahead because E.ON does not have an operating licence for the plant, only a construction permit. Our lawsuit secures a window of opportunity to prevent the construction from going ahead.

Seizing the opportunity, today, while E.ON has been seeking to improve its image by sponsoring "national tree day", around 100 Greenpeace activists celebrated the event by planting thousands of trees on the proposed site of the company's new power plant.

Germany - giant metal dinosaur

In Germany, Vattenfall are another company building new coal fired power plants. Once again, Greenpeace is leading the fight to stop them. The three new plants proposed by Vattenfall would pump out some 18.2 million tonnes of carbon per year. Coal power stations should go the way of the dinosaurs, and Greenpeace made that point by delivering a 5-meter tall dinosaur and three tonnes of coal to Vattenfalls' headquarters.

With the Vattenfall plant at Moorburg the subject of discussions between Germany's Christian Democrats and Greens, as they seek to form a new provincial government, there is a real chance to do the right thing and consign this power plant to history.

Better ideas on offer

Coal companies try to disguise their filthy investments by talking up the prospect of implementing Carbon Capture and Storage ( CCS) technology. Just one of the problems? We need carbon reductions now, but Vattenfall say their first 'commercial concept' will be ready between 2015 and 2020  - too late to make a difference, even it worked.

If Europe doesn't face up to the coal industry it will have to face up to the consequences of climate change. Fortunately there is an alternative.

Europe needs an Energy Revolution.  That means investment in clean energy and enhanced energy efficiency measures. Investing in renewable energy like wind energy and solar power, or in combined heat and power plants - which take the excess heat created by electricity generation and make it available for heating rather than letting it dissipate into the atmosphere - can deliver the CO2 savings we need. More demanding energy efficiency standards for everything from light bulbs and fridges to cars will ensure the economy continues to grow even as it decarbonises.

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