Europe forced back to coal as Russia throttles gas

European countries have been trying to move away from coal as a source of electricity as they push for carbon neutrality, but the uncertainty surrounding the supply of natural gas from Russia is forcing some to expand their coal-fired power generation.

Russia's largest gas company, the state-owned Gazprom, said on June 15th that it would slash the supply of natural gas through a key pipeline to Germany by about 60 percent.

The announcement has triggered concern in countries connected to the pipeline.

The German government said on Sunday that it would save some of its gas supply for winter and temporarily expand coal-based thermal power generation.

German economy and climate minister Robert Habeck has said that cutting gas consumption is regrettable but necessary.

The Dutch government announced on Monday that it would lift restrictions on coal-fired power plants and allow full operation.

The Austrian government says it will restart a coal thermal power plant "if necessary".

In France, the government says it may extend the life of two coal-fired power plants that are slated to close by the end of this year.