Target: Jean-Claude Juncker, President, European Commission
Goal: Applaud nearly unanimous E.U. commitment to transition permanently away from coal by 2020.
The European Union has sent a clear message of its intention to permanently transition away from coal production. Twenty-six of 28 member countries, excluding Poland and Greece, agreed to end construction of coal-fired power plants by 2020. This continues a global shift away from coal, which saw coal plant construction plummet 60 percent in 2016.
A sustained movement away from coal is necessary to meet the targets laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement. The burning of coal accounts for 44 percent of carbon and 8 to 10 percent of methane emissions contributing to rising global temperatures. Coal is also a primary source of outdoor air pollution, which can directly impact public health. Over 2.6 million people die prematurely each year from pollution-related illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and stroke.
Even as much of the industrialized world is working to transition away from fossil fuels, the Trump Administration has signaled it will attempt to increase coal production in the United States. However, a revitalization of the coal industry is extremely unlikely to occur. The emergence of natural gas and renewable energy has fueled a sustained decline marked by cascading unemployment and bankruptcy. At its peak in the 1950s, over 400,000 were employed in the coal industry, a number which fell to little over 50,000 in 2016. Peabody Energy, once the largest private coal producer in the world, has been forced to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
It seems inevitable that coal will become merely a remnant from a fossil fuel based past. Please sign the below petition applauding the European Union for taking decisive action towards ending the coal era.
Dear President Juncker,
I am writing to praise the recent commitment by the European Union to end construction of all coal-fired power plants by 2020. This sends a clear message to the world that the E.U. will be taking a leadership role in combating global climate change.
As the election of President Trump has at least temporarily removed the United States as a major partner in meeting the goals set forward in the Paris Accords, it is critical that your member countries continue working to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius. We, the undersigned, applaud this groundbreaking effort to stop coal pollution.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Arnold Paul