More coal used in Luxembourg, less in the EU

The smoking chimneys of a coal power plant Photo: Shutterstock

The smoking chimneys of a coal power plant Photo: Shutterstock

Luxembourg in 2020 burnt more coal than the year before despite an EU trend towards reducing the use of solid fossil fuels.

The grand duchy last year consumed 74.4 thousand tonnes of solid fossil fuels, Eurostat data published on Tuesday shows. The report came after the UN warned of a “code red for humanity” this week in its latest report on climate change.

Overall, coal consumption declined in the EU, dropping from 522m tonnes in 2019 to 423m last year. In the euro area, consumption dropped from 287m tonnes to 221m tonnes. This includes hard coal and brown coal but also other types of solid fossil fuels.

Luxembourg was only one of two countries to increase its use of solid fossil fuels, from 72.5 thousand tonnes in 2018 to 73.3 thousand tonnes in 2019, reaching 74.4 thousand tonnes in 2020. Around 5.2 thousand tonnes were used by the steel industry, according to the Eurostat data, which did not indicate the reason for the year-on-year increase.

Ireland, which more than halved its coal consumption between 2018 and 2019, also saw a slight uptick, from 586.7 thousand tonnes in 2019 to 635.7 thousand tonnes last year.

While CO2 emissions in Luxembourg dropped 18% last year because of pandemic lockdown measures, the country previously also bucked the EU trend. Emissions fell by 4% across the bloc between 2018 and 2019, but they increased by 2% in Luxembourg.

Only two countries in the EU still produce hard coal, Poland and the Czech Republic. Back in 1990, there were still 13 member countries producing hard coal. EU consumption of hard coal has dropped 63% since 1990 and in 2020 was at 144m tonnes. The use of brown coal in the EU dropped by 64% between 1990 and 2020, to 246m tonnes.