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UPDATE 1-Spain joins campaign to phase out coal by 2030

(Adds link to story on Britain’s phase-out, research group comment)

MADRID, June 30 (Reuters) - Spain joined an international campaign to set a date for closing all coal plants by 2030 on Wednesday, signing up to a target it looks well-placed to beat by a wide margin.

The Powering Past Coal Alliance now counts 23 national governments among 133 members united by the desire to speed up the demise of coal-fired power generation and contribute to reining in planet-warming carbon emissions.

North Macedonia and Montenegro also joined the campaign, along with French asset manager Amundi and Canadian utility Capital Power Corp.

With abundant sunlight, blustery hillsides and vast plains, Spain is transforming its energy system to rely on renewable sources and expects to have closed 85% of its total coal capacity by 2022.

The United States and European Union pledged last month to develop green technologies but steered clear of setting a firm end-date for burning coal. Britain, however, said on Wednesday it aimed to end the use of coal in electricity generation by 2024.

Spain’s Energy and Environment Minister Teresa Ribera has long argued that coal will fade out as the costs of emissions permits climb and other sources become ever cheaper. A national climate plan submitted to Brussels last year foresees coal capacity dwindling to zero by 2030.

Ribera said in a statement on Wednesday: “We need to take concrete steps towards a global coal power phase-out at COP26 in Glasgow,” referring to a U.N. conference due to start on Oct. 31.

Research group Ember welcomed Spain’s entry into the alliance, saying it “puts pressure on European laggards like Germany to join a united block on coal phase-out”.

Ember representative Charles Moore said that “Spain making a 2030 commitment, rather than passively relying on market forces, adds crucial momentum.”

Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Alison Williams and Lisa Shumaker

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