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Denmark's largest energy company to stop using coal by 2023

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Christopher Furlong | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Danish energy company DONG Energy has announced that it will stop "all use of coal" by 2023.

In an announcement on Thursday, the business – which describes itself as a world leader in offshore wind power – said that its decision was "a result of the company's vision to lead the way in the transformation to a sustainable energy system and to create a leading green energy company."

Coal consumption had been cut by 73 percent since 2006, DONG Energy said, and its power stations would replace coal with sustainable biomass. In 2016, two power stations had been converted to run on wood pellets and straw, it added.

"When you look at climate change and air pollution from fossil fuel production, it is no longer some abstract discussion about a future threat to the planet, it is quite real," Henrik Poulsen, chief executive of DONG Energy, told CNBC on Thursday morning.

"This is something which is changing the lives of millions of people around the planet already today," he added.

Poulsen went on to say that DONG Energy's mission was "to be a leader in the transition to more sustainable energy systems and that's also why we have today announced that we're going to be a coal free company by 2023."

Commenting on the broader picture, Poulsen said that some nations should "take a closer look at their long term energy mix and also look at the opportunities to more aggressively shift towards renewables also in light of the cost of renewables having come down significantly just over the past couple of years."

DONG Energy reported its final results for 2016 on Thursday. Operating profit – earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortization – from ongoing operations rose by 10.4 billion ($1.5 billion) Danish crowns in 2016 to 19.1 billion Danish crowns.

For Q4 2016, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization were 6.3 billion Danish crowns.