Heard in Europe

It can’t be easy representing the coal industry in Brussels – especially not when every man and his dog is banging on about stopping global warming and moving onto a low-carbon economy.

There are two ways to handle that gnawing feeling that coal is on borrowed time. Either go on the attack, or try to be nice.

Euracoal, “the voice of coal in Europe”, has often gone on the attack.

As Euracoal Secretary General Brian Ricketts memorably wrote in an opinion piece in EurActiv, “Well-funded green NGOs vilify the coal industry.

“They employ professionals who wear smart suits and carry smartphones, the products of fossil fuels; 80% of everything that comes out of China began as a lump of coal.”

>>Read: Coal industry stands for progress and prosperity

If they are not lashing out at green NGOs, Euracoal are printing calendars showing a buxom babe abandoning her windmill boyfriend for a hunky coal plant, or a man dying on a hospital slab after being let down by renewable energy.

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>>Read: The green side of coal

Euracoal was at a recent Roundtable on Coal event in the European Parliament. Also present was Marek Gróbarczyk, lead MEP on the Energy Union dossier, and Brendan Devlin, adviser to the director of the European Commission’s DG Energy.

And judging by the minutes of a recent Roundtable on Coal, Euracoal may be softening its strident tone.

Renewables are good!

While there was still some talk of the “supremacy of EU climate policy”, Euracoal President Dr Zygmunt Łukaszczyk made an astonishing admission.

He said, “The coal industry agreed that, in the future, it would be good to be fully dependent on renewable energy sources.”

Dr Łukaszczyk did point out nobody knew how to reach this political vision – but the shocking renewables confession still has to represent some kind of progress.

“The coal industry does not want to be seen as a dinosaur, resisting change, but instead wants to be valued for what it offers in terms of secure and competitive energy production,” Łukaszczyk added.

Which seems reasonable enough.

Especially when compared to the Euracoal op-ed’s chest-beating closing lines.

“We will continue to use coal in the EU; economics will trump ideology and the coal industry will continue to deliver performance improvements. Outlawing coal would be a divisive and backwards step for humanity.”

Friends at last

Has Euracoal had a change of heart?

Darek Urbaniak, of WWF, certainly thinks so.

He said, “WWF is thrilled that the coal industry after years of denials has finally agreed that a full switch to renewable energy is not only necessarily but unavoidable.

“Euracoal’s president stated that ‘nobody knew how to reach this political vision’ – well, WWF is located in the same building as his office so he can just walk a few floors down and we will happily share with him a detailed decarbonisation roadmap!”

Isn’t it nice that everyone’s friends?

Have a look at the minutes in full and make your own mind up.

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Photographs courtesy of Euracoal.

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