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ClientEarth Communications

16th December 2020

Fossil fuels

Our wins in the fight against coal

2020 has brought unique and unprecedented challenges socially and economically. It has changed the way we all work now and in the future but while life at ClientEarth has looked very different this year, we can’t and won’t ignore the climate crisis ahead of us.

We’ve continued to fight – and win - against polluting coal across Europe and have begun working with partners across Asia to highlight the environmental, financial and legal risks of continuing to invest in coal. Here are some of the things you’ve helped us achieve:

  • We joined locals in the legal fight against Germany’s newest coal plant, DatteIn IV. The plant has been built on residents’ doorstep – and in the direct vicinity of a children’s hospital. The unit was constructed just after Germany agreed its coal exit law and not long since parent company Fortum had positioned itself in opposition to coal expansion. Pollution from the plant poses major risks to residents’ health, from cancer to neurological disorders. But despite successes against the plant in court in the planning stages, DatteIn IV went ahead. So we have ramped up efforts to shorten its lifespan, while campaigners continue to put pressure on Finland’s Fortum. ClientEarth lawyer Francesca Mascha Klein said: “This means this challenge has even better prospects – the legal and political fight over Datteln IV is taking place in a different context today. Another court win would spell the end for Datteln IV.”
  • Major Polish energy firms Enea and Energa announced they would suspend funding to, and construction of, the country’s last planned new coal plant, Ostroleka C, over economic concerns. This follows our groundbreaking shareholder lawsuit over the “indefensible” risks of going ahead with the project. Their decision demonstrated to the global market that companies must take note of the risks of fossil fuels in today’s world.
  • We took legal challenges against coal operators in Bulgaria who had been burning waste alongside coal in an attempt to keep coal plants alive. As a result of our legal interventions and advocacy, the Pernik power plant withdrew its investment proposal to burn waste and the operators of Bobov Dol and Brikel announced that they would put an end to waste burning. This was a relief for people living near the Pernik, Bobov Dol and Brikel plants. For too long, they have seen the power plant sites turn into dumping grounds and they could even smell burnt plastic throughout the night. Almost 100 people have joined the court case against Bobov Dol, a first in Bulgaria.

What’s next for coal?

These have been huge wins for us this year in the fight for cleaner, greener energy and a healthier planet. 2021 will come with post-pandemic uncertainty but we have a unique opportunity to rebuild a stronger economy, creating good quality jobs in clean renewables and continuing to tackle coal pollution. We could not have achieved any of this on our own, so thank you for all of your support.