WWF & Greenpeace call Greek ministry to revoke act which undermines lignite phase-out

Posted on January, 27 2022

WWF Greece and Greenpeace submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Energy an official petition for the revocation of a December 2021 administrative act, which grants five old lignite plants a derogation to illegally exceed the EU emission levels of (2010/75 Industrial Emissions Directive-IED). The challenged decision also practically cancels the commitment of the Greek government to close down all currently operating lignite plants by 2023.

The main reasons for which the two organisations call for the revocation of the derogation are that the contested decision: 

  • violates the IED provision for timely and effective public consultation, 
  • illegally grants extension of operating hours to lignite plants which do not conform with the IED emission limits for toxic air pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust (including particulate matter).
  • practically cancels the government’s commitments to close all operating lignite plants by 2023.

If the Greek Government is serious about its commitment for closure of all old lignite plants, then it must plan a clear pathway to coal phase out and climate neutrality, under strong conditions for environmental protection, social justice and meaningful public engagement. The current energy crisis leaves no room for procrastination regarding the problems caused by Greece’s high dependence on fossil gas and the need for smart and socially just transition to a clean energy system, together with drastic measures for energy efficiency in all sectors and activities. 

The draft national climate law, which is currently in public consultation, is the government’s flagship tool for integrated planning and a clear pathway to climate neutrality. We call on the government to include an unambiguous and binding timeline for the closure of all polluting lignite plants which continue to operate in violation of EU law.


  • PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s comitment at COP26: “A lot of the focus on COP26 was around coal. We made our decision to move away from coal two years ago. So we were very dependent -and still are to a certain extent- on lignite, which is the dirtiest form of coal. … 

We had already decided, before COP26, to close down all our lignite electricity plants by 2023, all the old ones.” 

  • The Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75 is the main EU law regulating pollutant emissions from industrial installations. The IED aims to achieve a high level of protection of human health and the environment taken as a whole by reducing harmful emissions of pollutants (such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter (industrial dust), and carbon monoxide) by large combustion industries, such as coal plants. 

WWF & Greenpeace’s petition (in Greek): https://www.wwf.gr/shmeio_gnosis/politiki/?uNewsID=5823966

© Andrea Bonetti / WWF Ελλάς