Activists denounce industry’s control over EU decisions on coal pollution standards

Air quality and European citizens’ health put at stake by coal industry’s interests

Press release - June 1, 2015
Seville/Brussels - Fourteen activists wearing protective pollution masks held up banners reading “STOP KILLER COAL” and placed a 65 metres banner on top of Seville hotel Meliá Lebreros, where European government delegations are meeting to discuss new EU coal pollution standards.

The activists criticised the fact that most national delegations setting the new standards have been captured by the coal industry. A recent Greenpeace investigation revealed how fourteen European countries requested energy utilities to represent their governments in the meeting [1].

Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Tara Connolly said: "The decisions taken this week in Seville will directly affect our air quality and the health of millions of Europeans. That Europe’s biggest polluters are representing our governments in this meeting is beyond understanding.” 

The draft standards under discussion would allow existing European coal plants to pollute up to a dozen times more than best performing power plants in China, Japan and the United States are allowed to. As research commissioned by Greenpeace and the European Environmental Bureau has shown [2], this could lead to 71,000 preventable deaths across Europe.

Chaired by the European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Bureau, the Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting in Seville today is the most important of various bodies involved in drafting the new standards.

Greenpeace found that the TWG is dominated by energy utilities - a total of at least 46 representatives spread over 14 government delegations are in fact industry lobbyists, on top of the 137 formal industry representatives participating.

Examples of government delegations dominated by industry include:

  • The Spanish eleven-person delegation includes seven industry representatives, including coal power plant operators, as well as the electricity producers’ association UNESA.
  • The United Kingdom nine-person member state delegation has five representatives of large polluters, including coal power plant operators RWE, EDF and E.ON as well as representatives from the Stanlow oil refinery.
  • The seven-member Greek delegation is entirely made up of representatives of Public Power Corporation, the operator of some of the dirtiest lignite power plants anywhere in the EU, and Hellenic Petroleum.
  • The six-member Polish delegation has three energy industry representatives, including a representative from PGE, a company running some of Europe’s biggest and dirtiest power coal plants.

In the coming days the TWG is expected to finalise its proposal for coal pollution standards. European countries are expected to vote on the proposal by the end of the year before the European Commission adopts it in 2016.                             


[1] Greenpeace (March 2015), Smoke and Mirrors – How Europe’s biggest polluters became their own regulators .

[2] A report by Mike Holland, commissioned by Greenpeace (May 2015): Health and economic implications of alternative emission limits for coal-fired power plants in the EU .


Tara Connolly: Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser: +32 (0)477 790416

Andree Boehling: Greenpeace energy campaigner: +49 (0) 151 18053382

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911,

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs:

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.