Barcelona, Spain – The World Coal Leaders Network 2018 meeting was disrupted today by 17 Greenpeace activists from Spain, France and Slovenia who peacefully protested the continued use of coal and demanded its rapid phase-out. A large banner reading “COAL DESTROYS LIVES” was deployed which exposed coal companies and traders as major contributors to climate change and air pollution that continue to threaten millions of lives. The activists urged European governments to discontinue their support of the “killer fuel”, particularly in the form of subsidies for coal companies, and plan for an immediate coal exit.

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner for Central and Eastern Europe Adam Pawloff said: “EU governments continue to disregard coal’s role in deadly climate change and extreme weather events. The most recent IPCC special report is loud and clear: The time for coal burning is over, the time for climate action is now. To limit the worst climate disasters and irreversible damage to our planet, by 2030 we must drop coal use by two-thirds globally, and completely in Europe. We are here today, peacefully protesting, to show coal companies we won’t take their dirty energy anymore and demand EU governments break with the fossil fuel lobby, phase out coal and end subsidies for the dirty energy.”

“People across Europe and around the world are already standing up and demanding their governments to break free from coal. Noticeably in Germany more than 50,000 people rallied in Hambach forest to send an unprecedented anti-coal message. Germany, with the biggest coal fleet in Europe, has still not set a phase-out date. With an ambitious 2030 phase-out date, Germany could take back its climate leadership role in Europe –and globally,” added Adam Pawloff.

Burning coal is the single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions from human activity and is the number one driver of climate change [1]. Further, studies show that air pollution from coal power plants alone is responsible for hundreds of thousands of premature deaths globally each year, including more than 22,900 in the EU [2, 3]. These numbers increase dramatically when industrial and domestic coal use are taken into account.

This autumn, the EU leaders will decide whether or not a little-known type of subsidy –called capacity mechanisms –will be restricted by EU law. The payments are taken from the public’s pockets to supposedly ensure supply in case extra power is needed. A recent Greenpeace report showed that EU governments have already allocated €58 billion to prop up coal, gas and nuclear power plants through such schemes. 66% of all capacity mechanism subsidies in the EU go to coal plants alone.


High-resolution photos and videos will be available here


[1] Climate change is already amplifying deadly heat waves, wildfires, record floods and droughts, taking lives affecting food production, water availability, and threatening to make whole regions unlivable

[2] Coal-fired power plants are estimated to be responsible for the following annual premature deaths: 87,000 in China, 100,000 in India, 20,000 in Southeast Asia, 23,000 in Europe

[3] Deaths associated with lung cancer, strokes and respiratory diseases among other air-pollution-related illnesses


Adam Pawloff, Greenpeace CEE climate and energy campaigner (German, English):, phone +436503722524

Tatiana Nuno, Greenpeace Spain climate and energy campaigner (Spanish, English):, phone +34689141754

Stella Haller, Greenpeace CEE press officer (German, English):, phone +436648169716

Marta San Roman, Greenpeace Spain press officer (Spanish, English):, phone +34680400645

Greenpeace International Press Desk: +31 (0) 20 718 2470, (available 24 hours)