‘End in sight’ for coal power, as Paris accord axes 3 of 4 of globe’s planned smokies


Signing the 2015 Paris climate accord has led to the world’s pipeline of planned coal-fired power plants being slashed by as much as 76%, expert analysis out today indicates.

‘No new coal’ declarations already made by 44 nations, with a further 40 now in a position to pledge likewise, presage “an end in sight” for all construction of new coal-burning generation, analysts say. 

Principled stands by as few as six countries in the run-up to CoP26 this November in Glasgow could eliminate 82% of the rump of coal burners still on the globe’s drawing boards, today’s joint report from environmental researchers E3G, Ember and Global Energy Monitor asserts.  

China alone accounts for 55% of that rump, followed by India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey and Bangladesh. 

Beyond that smokey six, the remaining pipeline is thinly spread across a further 31 countries. Of these, 16  are only one project away from embracing a future without coal. 

Coal is the single largest contributor to climate change. According to the recent UN IPCC report, the use of coal needs to fall 79% by 2030 on 2019 levels, if countries are to meet the pledges they signed up to in the Paris Agreement.

If China follows the lead of Japan and South Korea in ending overseas coal finance, it would ease the cancellation of over 40GW of pipeline projects across 20 countries, researchers led by E3G’s Leo Roberts, associate director Chris Littlecott and Global Energy Monitor’s programme director Christine Shearer conclude. 

These countries could follow global momentum and regional peers in ending their pursuit of new coal-fired power generation.

CoP26, already earmarked by CoP President Designate Alok Sharma as “the CoP that consigns coal to history”, will be a key moment for demonstrating momentum away from new coal, and for richer countries to provide support to countries in pivoting towards a coal-free future.

From Global Energy Monitor, report co-authoChristine Shearer said: “The world’s leading scientific bodies are clear: coal power needs to be essentially phased out in the next two decades to prevent dangerous climate change.”

Today’s report is released ahead of UN General Assembly and the High-Level Dialogue on Energy on 24 September, where countries will table their individual and collective commitments to action.

The report can be accessed on E3G’s website here. Interactive graphics and summaries for geographical regions complement its analysis.


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