The Commission is in the process of updating some of the content on this website in light of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. If the site contains content that does not yet reflect the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, it is unintentional and will be addressed.

Solving the coal puzzle. Lessons from four years of coal phase-out policy in Europe

Share this Post:

With 15 countries that announced to phase out coal burning since 2015, this guide reflects back on a wealth of policy experience gained in the last four years.


With the feedback of 20 experts across 10 countries, nine qualities that are needed for a successful coal phase-out were identified. The interviews from the experts allowed to highlight whether there were lessons to share and adding the nine qualities, the authors created a list of “dos and dont’s”.


The nine qualities are:

  • Ambitious: plans need a phase-out date and pathway consistent with 1.5 degrees
  • Legislated: plans should be written into laws
  • Just: no one is left behind
  • Clean: wind and solar explicitly replace coal
  • Direct: avoids a bridge into fossil gas or unsustainable biomass
  • Reliable: keeps the lights on
  • Economic: coal should pay a carbon price
  • Healthy: closes dirtiest plants first
  • Smart: avoids pay-off for closure

Additional documents