Climate Change

EU’s top 10 emitters are all coal plants — and 7 of them are repeat offenders

Poland, Germany dominate Europe’s emissions; long-term trend of coal power emissions shows a decline

By Nandita Banerji
Published: Tuesday 23 May 2023
Europe’s power sector emissions have declined over the last decade, but the transition isn’t fast enough. Photo: iStock__

The ten largest emitters in the European Union Emissions Trading System in 2022 were all coal plants, with Germany and Poland dominating the list, an analysis of recorded emissions has found. However, the long-term trend of coal power emissions shows a decline, with values in 2022 40 per cent lower than a decade ago.

Coal power emissions rose 6 per cent compared to 2021, but remained below 2019 levels, according to a report titled Repeat offenders: coal power plants top the EU emitters list released May 23, 2023 by global energy think tank Ember. EU ETS is a ‘cap and trade’ scheme which takes stock of greenhouse gas pollution.

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The top 10 emitters are responsible for almost a quarter of all power sector emissions in the EU-ETS. Just three companies — Rheinisch-Westfalische Elektrizitatswerk (RGE), Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) and Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding (EPH) — account for 30 per cent of power sector emissions.

Top 10 emitters in EU ETS — All coal plants

Source: EU ETS, Ember

Poland and Germany pumped out 13 per cent of the EU’s total emissions together, the report further said. 

Europe’s power sector emissions have declined over the last decade as countries moved towards phasing out coal, with a limited increase during the previous two years as the continent faced an ongoing energy crisis and sky-high gas costs.

However, the transition is not fast enough. 

Countries and coal-powered emissions (million tonnes CO2 equivalent)

Source: EU ETS, Ember

“Coal plants are the repeat offenders of the EU’s dirty list,” says Ember’s analyst Harriet Fox in a statement. “The faster Europe can get off coal power the better.”

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A few countries and companies are responsible for the lion’s share of Europe's power sector emissions, she added.

Seven of the coal plants have been among the top 10 highest emitting power stations every year for the last decade, with PGE’s Bełchatow in Poland topping the list since the EU ETS scheme began in 2005.

RWE’s Neurath coal plant in Germany is in second place, followed by the Boxberg plant — also based in Germany but run by Czech Republic-based EPH.

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