It’s Wednesday, December 8, and Greece is ahead of the pack when it comes to ditching coal.

During the United Nations’ climate conference in Scotland last month, more than 40 countries drew attention for pledging to drop coal-fired power by the 2030s and 2040s. But Greece, one of the European Union’s most coal-dependent countries, is planning a much faster transition away from the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel.

In the draft of a new climate law unveiled last month, Greece’s conservative government, led by ​​Kyriakos Mitsotakis, proposed decommissioning all of the country’s coal-fired power plants and phasing out coal production within the next six years. In an interview with the Financial Times, Kostas Skrekas, Greece’s environment and energy minister, called the effort “of historic importance” to addressing the climate crisis. As of 2019, roughly 12 percent of Greece’s energy consumption came from coal.

The proposed law comes on the heels of a brutal summer and fall for Greece. In early August, wildfires scorched more than 400 square miles, displacing thousands of people. Scientists say that hot, arid conditions — symptoms of climate change — helped fuel the devastating fires.

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Greece’s proposed legislation also promises a ban on gasoline-powered car sales by the end of the decade — five years before the E.U.’s proposed ban. And by 2025, it would ban all buildings from using oil heating and require solar panels on some industrial buildings.

Environmental advocates welcomed the news but criticized the 2028 deadline for dropping coal power, noting that the Mitsotakis government had previously proposed a coal phaseout by 2025. They also called for stronger language on phasing out oil and gas production and use, as well as greater commitments to preserve biodiversity. ”Its provisions are not strong enough,” Nikos Petrou, president of Greece’s Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, told me. “Despite the positive elements … we are concerned that it lacks the bold measures required by current conditions.”

Correction: Yesterday’s Beacon misstated the relationship between the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s vote and a decision by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. The story has been updated.

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