7 of Europe's top 10 CO2 emitters are in Germany

7 of Europe's top 10 CO2 emitters are in Germany

Germany has pledged to phase out coal power by 2038, but in the meantime the country’s power stations continue to fire out emissions - and at an even higher rate in 2021. A new study has revealed that the federal republic is home to seven of the EU’s top emitters, all of them coal and lignite plants. 

Coal emissions increased in Europe in 2021

Emissions in the energy sector rose significantly in the EU in 2021, as the world powered its way out of the coronavirus pandemic and the rising cost of natural gas heightened the importance of coal in energy production around the world. 

According to an evaluation by the British think tank Ember, emissions from coal-fired plants in Europe increased by 17 percent in 2021, the largest increase since the start of the emissions trading system in 2005 and the first rise since 2015. 

Europe’s biggest CO2 emitters in Germany and Poland

The data shows that just two countries - Germany and Poland - accounted for more than half of all power sector emissions in Europe. The Polish state-owned energy company PGE was the largest emitter in the EU, responsible for 70,5 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2021. It was closely followed by two German companies: RWE and EPH. 

Breaking the figures down to look at individual power plants, Ember revealed that all 10 of the plants with the highest emissions in 2021 were located in Germany and Poland. The Bełchatów Power Station in Poland topped the list with 33,2 metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2021, followed by Germany’s Neurath (22,1 metric tons) and Niederaußem (16,1 metric tons) plants. 

The latter plant also claimed the dubious distinction of recording the largest emissions increase from 2020, emitting 36 percent more CO2 in 2021. 

Focus should be on renewable energy, think tank says

Ember warned that, against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the ensuing gas crisis, and discussions about extending the life of Europe’s coal power stations to end reliance on Russian gas imports, these figures show that coal is still “a major threat to the climate.” 

“Clean electricity by 2035 is the order of the day for the EU,” said Ember analyst Harriet Fox. She argued that an increase in the use of coal power should only be temporary. “Now is the right time for a massive expansion of renewable energy to create a cleaner, cheaper and more reliable energy mix as quickly as possible.” 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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