The Prosper Haniel mine, Germany’s last coal mine, was closed, and miners handed over the last piece of coal extracted from it to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The mine was shut down for about 155 years. Speaking to workers that day, the mining leader said, “For some, it may just be a stone. But you have to say that it is a symbol that reveals the importance of our history. Because this is the world for us. “
This happened on December 21, 2018. The main reason for this is to prevent the release of so-called greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. Because just over a month ago, the UN had warned that an increase in greenhouse gases would certainly lead to catastrophic destruction. But not only Germany but also Austria, Italy and the Netherlands have returned to coal use. That is to say, all the European nations that once taught the world about the dangers posed by coal and that this is the ‘path of destruction’, are headed to travel the same path today.
Old coal mines closed in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Italy have announced plans to reopen. This announcement is not the plan of those governments. This is because climate change policies are in place in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, and Berlin, the capital of Germany. The German parliament passed a law in 2020 calling for an end to coal use by 2038. The result of coal production, therefore, is the opposite.
The main reason for this is the limited supply of natural gas from Russia to Western European countries. As a result, the price of natural gas has skyrocketed. Following this, the German Minister of Economic Affairs requested that “the use of natural gas should be used only for power generation.” By the end of last November, the German government had taken steps to maintain a 90 percent gas reserve. But at present the reserve is about 56.7 per cent of the total capacity.
Coal reserves in Germany stood at 61.7 million tonnes in 2005. This is down from 35.9 million tonnes last year. At the same time, GAS increased from 111.3 million tonnes to 111.2 million tonnes. That is, there has been no major change over the past 15 years. Similarly, lignite decreased from 54.4 million tons to 38.6 million tons compared to 2005. Currently, Germany is facing the biggest crisis, with 60 percent of its natural gas being cut off from Russia.
Germany produced 28 percent of total electricity from lignite and coal last year. About 15.4 percent is generated using natural gas, while 41 percent is generated by renewable energy, according to the country’s Department of Energy. At the end of May, Germany generated 31.4 gigawatts of electricity from coal and 27.9 gigawatts from gas, according to the country’s regulatory authority. Following in the footsteps of Germany, Austria has reactivated its thermal power plants.
Similarly, the Netherlands has immediately lifted all restrictions on the operation of thermal power plants. All of these countries produced only one-third of the country’s total electricity generation from coal. Next in line is Italy, which is in the process of preparing to operate closed old thermal power plants. Energy officials in the country say they are working to implement these in an emergency until a severe power shortage occurs. The above countries have abruptly abandoned their climate change policies, increasing coal use and raising environmental concerns.
Speaking on the occasion, European Commission President Ursula von der Lein said, “European countries should not switch to coal again. Instead, invest more in renewable energy. In the current crisis, it is not right to return to polluting coal unless we have to move forward, ”he warned. According to a recent report by the International Energy Agency, investments in the fuel sector are estimated at about Rs 190 lakh crore. In it, it is emphasized that significant expenditure should be made on renewable energy. European countries are beginning to turn a blind eye to Russia’s 60 percent reduction in gas supplies.