Europe’s Coal Problem

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The European Union likes to pose as a leader on environmental politics, but when it comes to climate policy Europe has a skeleton in its closet—coal.

In the 18th and 19th centuries coal was the fuel that powered Europe’s industrial revolution. Up to the time of World War II, coal supplied 80 per cent of Europe’s energy needs.

From the 1950s in western Europe coal consumption sharply declined, being replaced by oil and gas. On the railways the iconic steam locomotives were phased out in favor of diesel and electric. The United Kingdom, once the powerhouse of European coal production, shut most of its mining industry in the 1990s. On Friday, December 21st 2018, in Bottrop, the last ton of anthracite was dug out of a German mine.

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