They’re building a huge new coal-fired power plant in Holz, Germany, where there are already three.

To fuel it, an open-pit mine that has scarred the fields outside town with a 31-square-mile hole will be moved west, swallowing up this village and nearby Pesch. Already, their neat cottages sit empty and boarded.

That’s just one of many planned for Europe:

Plans are on the books to build 40 major coal-fired power stations across Europe in the next five years. Germany, which, like Spain, Italy and others, is swearing off nuclear power, plans to build 27 coal-fired stations by 2020. … Over the next decade, new, mainly coal power plants in Europe could add 700 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year, according to the U.S.-based Center for Global Development — a 39 percent increase.

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But don’t worry, the math works out:

Power companies say the new high-efficiency plants under construction ultimately could reduce overall emissions by burning less coal than their predecessors.

It’s like I had a cousin with really bad flatulence, but then I got a new cousin whose flatulence wasn’t as bad, and suddenly everything smelled like roses!

Oh, and just as Gar bait, note this little bit buried deep in the story:

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To offset these new emissions, RWE is investing heavily in alternative energy in Germany. It is also taking advantage of a provision of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which allows the company to invest in greenhouse-gas-reduction projects in developing countries. The utility is installing a catalytic converter to filter emissions at a fertilizer plant in Egypt and is funding a project to control methane gas in China at a cost far less than what it would pay to achieve a similar reduction in Germany.

Everything rides on the word “similar,” no?

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