Sweden has joined Belgium and Austria as one of three European countries to abandon coal-fired power plants, after it shut down its last coal-fired plant earlier this month, two years ahead of schedule, according to the Independent.
The plant is based in eastern Stockholm and owned by the utility company Stockholm Exergi, which is itself partially owned by the city of Stockholm. The company said that the closure of the plant will cut its carbon dioxide emissions in half, according to the Independent.
"We continue to work on the transition to climate-neutral solutions and also solutions to create negative emissions," Anders Egelrud, chief executive of Stockholm Exergi, told PV Magazine.
"Here, the researchers agree: We don’t only need to reduce our emissions to zero but also … to develop techniques to specifically reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," he added.
Belgium shut down its last coal-fired power plant in 2016, while Austria shut its last facility down earlier this month, according to the Independent.
France plans to shut down its last coal-fired power plant by 2022, according to PV Magazine. Portugal and Slovakia are expected to follow suit in 2023, the UK in 2024, and a number of countries including Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands are all expected to leave coal behind by the end of the decade.
Germany, however, is not expected to abandon coal power until 2038.
"Against the backdrop of the serious health challenges we are currently facing, leaving coal behind in exchange for renewables is the right decision and will repay us in kind with improved health, climate protection, and more resilient economies," Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director of Europe Beyond Coal, told PV Magazine.
In addition to producing greenhouse gas emissions that drive global climate change, coal smoke has also been linked to asthma, birth defects, and cancer.
Switching from coal power and other fossil fuels to renewable energy is essential for mitigating climate change, which disproportionately affects those living in poverty.