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This Blog is designed to be a Diary of Events illustrating Global Climate Change, and where it will lead.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Europe Proposes to End Coal Mining Subsidies by 2014

From the New York Times:


It has been one of the most acrimonious debates in memory for officials at the European Commission, the executive body that runs the European Union. Should the commission allow nations to subsidize unprofitable coal mines to preserve jobs and help vulnerable regions? Or should it halt the aid to show the European Union’s commitment to reducing dependence on fossil fuels?

On Tuesday, in a preliminary victory for environmental groups and for green-minded regulators, the commission said that cash handouts for loss-making coal mines should end within four years — by Oct. 15, 2014 — rather than being allowed to continue for more than a decade as originally planned.

The decision, if approved by the European Union’s 27 governments, would mainly affect mines in Germany, Spain and Romania. Debate over the measure had raged for weeks, with Connie Hedegaard, the union commissioner for climate action, and Janez Potocnik, the commissioner for the environment, leading efforts either to kill the initiative or to shorten the amount of time that aid would remain available.

“I’m satisfied with this outcome because it guarantees that the aid will stop soon and be stopped while this commission is still in office,” Mr. Potocnik said.

The tussle over subsidies for the coal industry in Europe was also seen as a sign of how difficult it would be to phase out government support for fossil fuels, even in the most industrially advanced parts of the world.

"The commission has stood up to complacent attitudes and acted in the broader European interest,” said Mark Johnston, a senior policy adviser for WWF, an environmental group. “Public money must be directed rapidly towards making the green economy flourish and providing genuine climate and energy security.”

This is the type of action we need in every country.

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