Tag Archives: Coal

Canada & UK launch coal phaseout plan

At the UN climate summit a group of countries has undertaken to end the use and the financing of coal.

BONN, 17 November, 2017 – Canada and the UK have launched the Powering Past Coal Alliance, a collection of 20 countries, six provinces or states, and one city committed to phasing out coal, shifting to cost-competitive renewable energy alternatives, and embracing the health and economic benefits that will result.

The Alliance opened with 25 signatories. By the end of the 75-minute launch event on the second-last day of COP23 here in Bonn, El Salvador and Oregon had both signed on.

By joining the alliance, governments commit to “phasing out traditional coal power and placing a moratorium on any new traditional coal power stations without operational carbon capture and storage,” the formal declaration states, while business and non-government partners agree to power their operations without coal.

Climate Action Network-Canada (CAN-Rac) executive director Catherine Abreu said: “Canada and the UK are right to kick-start the Alliance, as science tells us that OECD countries need to phase out coal by 2030 at the latest.” She said it was important for members also to encourage a shift of international financing away from coal.

“Health professionals worldwide are beginning to treat climate change by prescribing an end to coal”

Now, a big push is on to sign up more countries, sub-national governments, cities, and businesses that have committed to low-carbon or 100% renewable targets, said Canadian environment and climate minister Catherine McKenna, who co-chaired the launch along with UK business, energy and industrial strategy minister Claire Perry and Bloomberg New Energy Finance chair Michael Liebreich.

“The path to the transition away from coal looks different for all of us, but we’re all here for the same reasons,” McKenna said. Coal is “the dirtiest fossil fuel in terms of carbon pollution” and is “literally choking our cities and our people,” causing nearly a million deaths per year and billions of dollars in economic costs.

“So go, find a friend, get them to join the coolest club in town,” she told participants.

In its analysis of the announcement, CAN-Rac traces the origins of the alliance back to “years of grassroots advocacy by environmental and health groups” in Canada, which encouraged the federal commitment to phase out coal by 2030.

Big savings

Ontario’s environment minister, Chris Ballard, said his province has saved $4.4 billion per year in avoided health, environmental, and social costs since it burned its last lump of coal in 2014, a phaseout that still ranks as one of North America’s biggest carbon reduction efforts.

“In 2005, there were 53 smog advisories issued in Ontario,” he said. “In 2016, two years after our last plant was closed, there were none. Zero. Our children can now play outside without risk of damage to their lungs, their health.”

Fiji minister for climate change Aiyaz Khaiyum stressed the symbolic importance of his country joining the alliance. Like many Pacific island nations, “we don’t use coal, we’ve never used coal, we don’t intend to use coal,” he said. But the alliance is still an important step to speed up reductions in countries’ carbon footprints.

While several of the government ministers present, including the UK’s Perry, made a point of stressing their commitment to carbon capture and storage technologies [good luck with that!], at least one country was prepared to extend its ban to another unsustainable energy technology.

Inuit gains

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents more than 60,000 indigenous people, said a coal phaseout would have “very positive impacts” for Canadian Inuit who had been “affected by global emissions since the beginning of the industrial period.”

With the Arctic warming twice as fast as the global average, “we are already seeing massive impacts from climate change,” he said. “The world as we know it is just slipping away, melting away, before our eyes.”

With its potential to curtail pollution ranging from black carbon to mercury contamination, he said the Alliance held out “more hope for us as a people to be able to maintain our lifestyle, culture, and identity in a way that we have for millennia.”

Courtney Howard, president-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, recalled a 2009 study in The Lancet that cited climate change as the century’s biggest global health threat.

Biggest opportunity

“I had been taught to treat heart attacks and strokes, and I wasn’t sure how an emergency physician was supposed to treat climate change,” she said. But six years later, in 2015, The Lancet also identified the response to climate change as the century’s biggest public health opportunity—and a coal phaseout as one of the main measures to achieve it.

“The coal phaseout is about less trauma, less displacement, fewer deaths from heat exhaustion, fewer burns from wildfires, fewer clouds of smoke and breathing problems, fewer malnourished children, less conflict and migration, fewer kids with asthma puffers, fewer ER visits and costly hospital admissions,” she said.

“So health professionals worldwide are beginning to treat climate change by prescribing an end to coal.”

“As an emergency doc, I know what it’s like to move too slowly and have a patient die,” Howard added. “I also know what it’s like to act quickly enough to pull someone back from the spiral, into a place where they can thrive. I’m acting from the assumption that climates are the same as people.” Climate News Network

Republished by permission from The Energy Mix, a thrice-weekly e-digest on climate, energy and post-carbon solutions.

At the UN climate summit a group of countries has undertaken to end the use and the financing of coal.

BONN, 17 November, 2017 – Canada and the UK have launched the Powering Past Coal Alliance, a collection of 20 countries, six provinces or states, and one city committed to phasing out coal, shifting to cost-competitive renewable energy alternatives, and embracing the health and economic benefits that will result.

The Alliance opened with 25 signatories. By the end of the 75-minute launch event on the second-last day of COP23 here in Bonn, El Salvador and Oregon had both signed on.

By joining the alliance, governments commit to “phasing out traditional coal power and placing a moratorium on any new traditional coal power stations without operational carbon capture and storage,” the formal declaration states, while business and non-government partners agree to power their operations without coal.

Climate Action Network-Canada (CAN-Rac) executive director Catherine Abreu said: “Canada and the UK are right to kick-start the Alliance, as science tells us that OECD countries need to phase out coal by 2030 at the latest.” She said it was important for members also to encourage a shift of international financing away from coal.

“Health professionals worldwide are beginning to treat climate change by prescribing an end to coal”

Now, a big push is on to sign up more countries, sub-national governments, cities, and businesses that have committed to low-carbon or 100% renewable targets, said Canadian environment and climate minister Catherine McKenna, who co-chaired the launch along with UK business, energy and industrial strategy minister Claire Perry and Bloomberg New Energy Finance chair Michael Liebreich.

“The path to the transition away from coal looks different for all of us, but we’re all here for the same reasons,” McKenna said. Coal is “the dirtiest fossil fuel in terms of carbon pollution” and is “literally choking our cities and our people,” causing nearly a million deaths per year and billions of dollars in economic costs.

“So go, find a friend, get them to join the coolest club in town,” she told participants.

In its analysis of the announcement, CAN-Rac traces the origins of the alliance back to “years of grassroots advocacy by environmental and health groups” in Canada, which encouraged the federal commitment to phase out coal by 2030.

Big savings

Ontario’s environment minister, Chris Ballard, said his province has saved $4.4 billion per year in avoided health, environmental, and social costs since it burned its last lump of coal in 2014, a phaseout that still ranks as one of North America’s biggest carbon reduction efforts.

“In 2005, there were 53 smog advisories issued in Ontario,” he said. “In 2016, two years after our last plant was closed, there were none. Zero. Our children can now play outside without risk of damage to their lungs, their health.”

Fiji minister for climate change Aiyaz Khaiyum stressed the symbolic importance of his country joining the alliance. Like many Pacific island nations, “we don’t use coal, we’ve never used coal, we don’t intend to use coal,” he said. But the alliance is still an important step to speed up reductions in countries’ carbon footprints.

While several of the government ministers present, including the UK’s Perry, made a point of stressing their commitment to carbon capture and storage technologies [good luck with that!], at least one country was prepared to extend its ban to another unsustainable energy technology.

Inuit gains

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents more than 60,000 indigenous people, said a coal phaseout would have “very positive impacts” for Canadian Inuit who had been “affected by global emissions since the beginning of the industrial period.”

With the Arctic warming twice as fast as the global average, “we are already seeing massive impacts from climate change,” he said. “The world as we know it is just slipping away, melting away, before our eyes.”

With its potential to curtail pollution ranging from black carbon to mercury contamination, he said the Alliance held out “more hope for us as a people to be able to maintain our lifestyle, culture, and identity in a way that we have for millennia.”

Courtney Howard, president-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, recalled a 2009 study in The Lancet that cited climate change as the century’s biggest global health threat.

Biggest opportunity

“I had been taught to treat heart attacks and strokes, and I wasn’t sure how an emergency physician was supposed to treat climate change,” she said. But six years later, in 2015, The Lancet also identified the response to climate change as the century’s biggest public health opportunity—and a coal phaseout as one of the main measures to achieve it.

“The coal phaseout is about less trauma, less displacement, fewer deaths from heat exhaustion, fewer burns from wildfires, fewer clouds of smoke and breathing problems, fewer malnourished children, less conflict and migration, fewer kids with asthma puffers, fewer ER visits and costly hospital admissions,” she said.

“So health professionals worldwide are beginning to treat climate change by prescribing an end to coal.”

“As an emergency doc, I know what it’s like to move too slowly and have a patient die,” Howard added. “I also know what it’s like to act quickly enough to pull someone back from the spiral, into a place where they can thrive. I’m acting from the assumption that climates are the same as people.” Climate News Network

Republished by permission from The Energy Mix, a thrice-weekly e-digest on climate, energy and post-carbon solutions.

China clamps down on coal

A slowing economy and falling energy demand, plus concerns over air pollution, spur Beijing to halt new coal mines and close hundreds of existing operations. 

LONDON, 2 January, 2016 – China says it will not approve any new coal mines for the next three years. The country’s National Energy Administration (NEA) says more than 1,000 existing mines will also be closed over the coming year, reducing total coal production by 70 million tons.

Analysts say this is the first time Beijing has put a ban on the opening of new mines: the move has been prompted both by falling demand for coal as a result of a slowing economy and by increasing public concern about hazardous levels of pollution, which have blanketed many cities across the country over recent months.

Beijing, a city of nearly 20 million, issued two red smog alerts – the most serious air pollution warning – in December, causing schools to close and prompting a warning to residents to stay indoors. 

A 2015 study estimated that air pollution – much of it from the widespread burning of coal – contributed to up to 1.6 million deaths each year in China. 

The country is by far the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, the most polluting fossil fuel. Emissions from coal-fired power plants and other industrial concerns in China have made it the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, putting more climate-changing gases into the atmosphere each year than the US and the European Union combined

Coal’s share falling

In accordance with an agreement reached with the US in late 2014, and in line with pledges made at the recent Paris summit on climate change, China aims to radically cut back on coal use in future.

In 2010, coal generated about 70% of China’s total energy: last year that figure dropped to 64% as more large-scale investments in renewable energy sources came on stream.  

Whether or not that decline in coal use will be speedy or ambitious enough to head off serious national and international climate change is not clear.

There are also questions about whether the coal-mining regions of China – predominantly in the north of the country – will ever recover from the  environmental devastation inflicted on them.

Uranium risk

Vast swathes of land in Shanxi province, once the main coal production area, have been destroyed by mining: air and water pollution has caused a health crisis in many regions. 

The province of Inner Mongolia – bigger than France and Spain combined –  is now the main area for coal, accounting for about 25% of China’s total production, most of it through open-cast mining. Copper, lead and uranium are also mined in the province.

Indigenous groups of nomadic herders say their lands are being destroyed and water sources poisoned by mining, with ponds full of toxins littering the countryside. 

Concerns have also been raised about vast uranium deposits found near coal-mining areas. China’s fast-growing nuclear industry has complained that vital uranium deposits might be contaminated by coal mining: others fear that uranium-contaminated coal could be being burned in power stations, showering radioactive dust on the surrounding countryside and its inhabitants. – Climate News Network 

A slowing economy and falling energy demand, plus concerns over air pollution, spur Beijing to halt new coal mines and close hundreds of existing operations. 

LONDON, 2 January, 2016 – China says it will not approve any new coal mines for the next three years. The country’s National Energy Administration (NEA) says more than 1,000 existing mines will also be closed over the coming year, reducing total coal production by 70 million tons.

Analysts say this is the first time Beijing has put a ban on the opening of new mines: the move has been prompted both by falling demand for coal as a result of a slowing economy and by increasing public concern about hazardous levels of pollution, which have blanketed many cities across the country over recent months.

Beijing, a city of nearly 20 million, issued two red smog alerts – the most serious air pollution warning – in December, causing schools to close and prompting a warning to residents to stay indoors. 

A 2015 study estimated that air pollution – much of it from the widespread burning of coal – contributed to up to 1.6 million deaths each year in China. 

The country is by far the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, the most polluting fossil fuel. Emissions from coal-fired power plants and other industrial concerns in China have made it the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, putting more climate-changing gases into the atmosphere each year than the US and the European Union combined

Coal’s share falling

In accordance with an agreement reached with the US in late 2014, and in line with pledges made at the recent Paris summit on climate change, China aims to radically cut back on coal use in future.

In 2010, coal generated about 70% of China’s total energy: last year that figure dropped to 64% as more large-scale investments in renewable energy sources came on stream.  

Whether or not that decline in coal use will be speedy or ambitious enough to head off serious national and international climate change is not clear.

There are also questions about whether the coal-mining regions of China – predominantly in the north of the country – will ever recover from the  environmental devastation inflicted on them.

Uranium risk

Vast swathes of land in Shanxi province, once the main coal production area, have been destroyed by mining: air and water pollution has caused a health crisis in many regions. 

The province of Inner Mongolia – bigger than France and Spain combined –  is now the main area for coal, accounting for about 25% of China’s total production, most of it through open-cast mining. Copper, lead and uranium are also mined in the province.

Indigenous groups of nomadic herders say their lands are being destroyed and water sources poisoned by mining, with ponds full of toxins littering the countryside. 

Concerns have also been raised about vast uranium deposits found near coal-mining areas. China’s fast-growing nuclear industry has complained that vital uranium deposits might be contaminated by coal mining: others fear that uranium-contaminated coal could be being burned in power stations, showering radioactive dust on the surrounding countryside and its inhabitants. – Climate News Network 

Warsaw – Day 8: King Coal gets a kicking

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Paul Brown, a Climate News Network editor, is in the Polish capital for the UN climate talks – the 19th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Today he reports on concerns at COP 19 that banks are paving “the highway to hell” by investing billions in coal and so worsening climate change. Coal has dominated the agenda in Warsaw, with demonstrations against the Polish Government’s decision to hold a coal summit during the climate talks. Scientists, UN officials and green groups said coal reserves must be left in the ground if the climate is not to overshoot the internationally agreed safe maximum temperature increase of 2°C over pre-industrial levels. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, who had left the climate talks to address the Coal and Climate Summit, had an uncomfortable message for the assembled chief executives of coal companies. “I am here to say coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone’s sake”, she told them. Coal use could continue only if carbon dioxide was captured and stored, otherwise the world should switch to wind and solar, which she said were already competitive on cost in many parts of the world. During the coal summit 27 of the world’s leading climate and energy scientists issued a statement saying investment in new coal plants without capturing the carbon dioxide emissions from them was unacceptable.

Banks’ “hypocrisy”

One of them, Dr Bert Metz, a former co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said even the most efficient coal plants were unacceptable if the climate was to be kept safe – they were twice as polluting as gas and 15 times more so than renewables. Alternatives to fossil fuels are readily available and affordable, he said. Beata Jaczewska, head of the Polish delegation at the climate talks, defended her Government’s decision to call a coal summit at the same time as the climate talks by saying that “coal has to be part of the solution.” Poland produces 86% of its electricity from coal. Environment campaigners exposed what they called “the hypocrisy of banks” in claiming they care about the climate while providing billions of dollars to finance new coal mines, underwrite share issues and even own mines themselves. A report, Banking on Coal, “provides a Who’s Who list of the financial institutions undermining the Earth’s climate system and our common future.” The report says American, Chinese and British banks are currently the biggest investors in coal, and if all the investments pay off then there is no hope of saving the planet from the ravages of global warming. Heffa Schücking, one of the report’s authors, said: “It is mind-boggling to see that less than two dozen banks from a handful of countries are putting us on a highway to hell when it comes to climate change. Big banks already showed that they can mess up the real economy. Now we’re seeing that they can also push our climate over the brink.”

American banks lead

In the period since the Kyoto Protocol came into force in 2005 four American banks, Citi, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, have been the biggest coal investors. Between them they have ploughed more than €24 billion into mining coal. To expose their “hypocrisy”, the report says some of the banks claim to be carbon-neutral while investing in the fossil fuel that is most damaging to the planet. Citi claims to be “most innovative investment bank for climate change and sustainability.” Morgan Stanley will “make your life greener and help tackle climate change”, while Bank of America claims to be “financing a low carbon economy.” The Americans do not have a monopoly on any hypocrisy, because most of the 20 leading fossil fuel banks mention their relatively tiny investments in renewables or energy efficiency, and make their underwriting of vast coal developments hard to find. All of them claim to be responsible lenders.

Chinese on the rise

European and Chinese banks fill most of the remaining top 20 places in the table of what the report calls “mining banks.”  Researchers note that since 2011 the Chinese have stepped up their coal investments and have leapfrogged other banks to take four of the top seven places in the coal investment league. Despite this, the US has still been the biggest coal investor in the last two years, with more than €15 bn in direct loans or underwriting shares and bonds. China is second, with just below €15 bn, the UK third with €8 bn and France fourth with just under €5 bn. Top 20 mining banks 2011- mid-2013. 1 Morgan Stanley, 2 Citi, 3 Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, 4 Bank of America, 5 China Construction Bank , 6 Agricultural Bank of China, 7 Bank of China, 8 Royal Bank of Scotland, 9 BNP Paribas, 10 China Development Bank, 11 JPMorgan Chase, 12 Standard Chartered, 13 Barclays, 14 Deutsche Bank, 15 UBS, 16 Credit Suisse, 17 Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, 18 HSBC, 19 Sumitomo Mitsui, 20 Goldman Sachs. Banking on Coal was published by the German environmental NGO Urgewald, the Polish Green Network, the international NGO network BankTrack and the CEE Bankwatch Network.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Paul Brown, a Climate News Network editor, is in the Polish capital for the UN climate talks – the 19th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Today he reports on concerns at COP 19 that banks are paving “the highway to hell” by investing billions in coal and so worsening climate change. Coal has dominated the agenda in Warsaw, with demonstrations against the Polish Government’s decision to hold a coal summit during the climate talks. Scientists, UN officials and green groups said coal reserves must be left in the ground if the climate is not to overshoot the internationally agreed safe maximum temperature increase of 2°C over pre-industrial levels. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, who had left the climate talks to address the Coal and Climate Summit, had an uncomfortable message for the assembled chief executives of coal companies. “I am here to say coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone’s sake”, she told them. Coal use could continue only if carbon dioxide was captured and stored, otherwise the world should switch to wind and solar, which she said were already competitive on cost in many parts of the world. During the coal summit 27 of the world’s leading climate and energy scientists issued a statement saying investment in new coal plants without capturing the carbon dioxide emissions from them was unacceptable.

Banks’ “hypocrisy”

One of them, Dr Bert Metz, a former co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said even the most efficient coal plants were unacceptable if the climate was to be kept safe – they were twice as polluting as gas and 15 times more so than renewables. Alternatives to fossil fuels are readily available and affordable, he said. Beata Jaczewska, head of the Polish delegation at the climate talks, defended her Government’s decision to call a coal summit at the same time as the climate talks by saying that “coal has to be part of the solution.” Poland produces 86% of its electricity from coal. Environment campaigners exposed what they called “the hypocrisy of banks” in claiming they care about the climate while providing billions of dollars to finance new coal mines, underwrite share issues and even own mines themselves. A report, Banking on Coal, “provides a Who’s Who list of the financial institutions undermining the Earth’s climate system and our common future.” The report says American, Chinese and British banks are currently the biggest investors in coal, and if all the investments pay off then there is no hope of saving the planet from the ravages of global warming. Heffa Schücking, one of the report’s authors, said: “It is mind-boggling to see that less than two dozen banks from a handful of countries are putting us on a highway to hell when it comes to climate change. Big banks already showed that they can mess up the real economy. Now we’re seeing that they can also push our climate over the brink.”

American banks lead

In the period since the Kyoto Protocol came into force in 2005 four American banks, Citi, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, have been the biggest coal investors. Between them they have ploughed more than €24 billion into mining coal. To expose their “hypocrisy”, the report says some of the banks claim to be carbon-neutral while investing in the fossil fuel that is most damaging to the planet. Citi claims to be “most innovative investment bank for climate change and sustainability.” Morgan Stanley will “make your life greener and help tackle climate change”, while Bank of America claims to be “financing a low carbon economy.” The Americans do not have a monopoly on any hypocrisy, because most of the 20 leading fossil fuel banks mention their relatively tiny investments in renewables or energy efficiency, and make their underwriting of vast coal developments hard to find. All of them claim to be responsible lenders.

Chinese on the rise

European and Chinese banks fill most of the remaining top 20 places in the table of what the report calls “mining banks.”  Researchers note that since 2011 the Chinese have stepped up their coal investments and have leapfrogged other banks to take four of the top seven places in the coal investment league. Despite this, the US has still been the biggest coal investor in the last two years, with more than €15 bn in direct loans or underwriting shares and bonds. China is second, with just below €15 bn, the UK third with €8 bn and France fourth with just under €5 bn. Top 20 mining banks 2011- mid-2013. 1 Morgan Stanley, 2 Citi, 3 Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, 4 Bank of America, 5 China Construction Bank , 6 Agricultural Bank of China, 7 Bank of China, 8 Royal Bank of Scotland, 9 BNP Paribas, 10 China Development Bank, 11 JPMorgan Chase, 12 Standard Chartered, 13 Barclays, 14 Deutsche Bank, 15 UBS, 16 Credit Suisse, 17 Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, 18 HSBC, 19 Sumitomo Mitsui, 20 Goldman Sachs. Banking on Coal was published by the German environmental NGO Urgewald, the Polish Green Network, the international NGO network BankTrack and the CEE Bankwatch Network.

Bank curbs won't slow coal's comeback

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Several big banks have said they will apply much more stringent conditions to funding for coal-burning plants, but despite that coal use is rising in many parts of the world.

LONDON, 30 July – For those concerned about the impact of coal-burning power plants on the world’s environment, the good news seems to have been arriving thick and fast lately.

Coal is the most polluting of fossil fuels and, according to the International Energy Agency, accounts for about 45% of global energy-related CO2 emissions.

In mid-July, the World Bank announced it was significantly scaling back funding for coal-fired power stations due to concerns about emissions and global warming. In future, said the Bank, it would limit such financial assistance to “only rare circumstances.” Then the US Export-Import Bank announced it had decided not to support funding for a multi-million dollar coal-fired power plant in Vietnam.

A few days later the European Investment Bank (EIB) – the world’s biggest public bank – followed the World Bank’s lead, introducing new lending criteria which, if properly implemented, would rule out future financial support for lignite and so-called “dirty coal” power plants. There were also indications the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) could be bringing in coal-lending restrictions.

But, as a pessimist might say, every silver lining has a dark cloud attached to it.

A big test of the World Bank’s resolve will likely be made early next year when it will decide whether to give funding guarantees to a highly controversial power plant using “dirty” coal in Kosovo.

Burgeoning growth

The EIB’s new criteria on coal lending – tied to specified limits on fossil fuel power plant emissions – have been criticised as being too generous to polluters, while the US Ex-Im Bank continues to back coal-fired power stations in many parts of the world.

And then there’s the bigger picture: the world is using coal for energy generation like never before, and projections are for consumption to grow by at least a third by 2040, possibly by a half if the worst case scenarios are fulfilled.

The US Federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) has just released its comprehensive International Energy Outlook 2013.

The EIA says world energy consumption is likely to grow by more than 50% over the period 2010 to 2040, with fossil fuels supplying 80% of the total, despite a growth in renewables and nuclear power.

It sees coal as remaining dominant in the electricity generation sector: global consumption will rise by 1.3% a year  – from 147 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy in 2010 to 180 quadrillion Btu in 2020 to 220 quadrillion Btu in 2040.

While much of that growth will come from the rapidly growing economies of China and India, coal consumption is at present rising rapidly in other parts of the world.

Coal makes a comeback

The shale gas boom in the US means record amounts of relatively cheap US coal are now available for export. The EIA says US coal exports were more than 115 million tons in 2012, more than double the 2009 figure.

The EU is by far the biggest customer for US coal, with exports to the UK alone going up by about 70% in 2012.  A big jump in UK coal use is deemed to be largely responsible for a 4% rise in UK CO2 emissions last year.

Meanwhile Germany, the EU’s economic powerhouse and a country often regarded as a leader in cutting CO2 emissions, is gradually upping its coal use.

It all makes grim reading for those hoping to limit CO2 emissions and prevent runaway global warming. Even in the US – where much has been made of the switch away from coal to less carbon-intensive gas – coal is making a comeback.

With coal prices falling and natural gas prices rising, the EIA says coal’s share of US power generation in the first four months of 2013 averaged 39.5%, compared with 35.4% in the same period last year.

US greenhouse gas emissions have been falling over the past four years: watch out for a rise this year. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Several big banks have said they will apply much more stringent conditions to funding for coal-burning plants, but despite that coal use is rising in many parts of the world.

LONDON, 30 July – For those concerned about the impact of coal-burning power plants on the world’s environment, the good news seems to have been arriving thick and fast lately.

Coal is the most polluting of fossil fuels and, according to the International Energy Agency, accounts for about 45% of global energy-related CO2 emissions.

In mid-July, the World Bank announced it was significantly scaling back funding for coal-fired power stations due to concerns about emissions and global warming. In future, said the Bank, it would limit such financial assistance to “only rare circumstances.” Then the US Export-Import Bank announced it had decided not to support funding for a multi-million dollar coal-fired power plant in Vietnam.

A few days later the European Investment Bank (EIB) – the world’s biggest public bank – followed the World Bank’s lead, introducing new lending criteria which, if properly implemented, would rule out future financial support for lignite and so-called “dirty coal” power plants. There were also indications the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) could be bringing in coal-lending restrictions.

But, as a pessimist might say, every silver lining has a dark cloud attached to it.

A big test of the World Bank’s resolve will likely be made early next year when it will decide whether to give funding guarantees to a highly controversial power plant using “dirty” coal in Kosovo.

Burgeoning growth

The EIB’s new criteria on coal lending – tied to specified limits on fossil fuel power plant emissions – have been criticised as being too generous to polluters, while the US Ex-Im Bank continues to back coal-fired power stations in many parts of the world.

And then there’s the bigger picture: the world is using coal for energy generation like never before, and projections are for consumption to grow by at least a third by 2040, possibly by a half if the worst case scenarios are fulfilled.

The US Federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) has just released its comprehensive International Energy Outlook 2013.

The EIA says world energy consumption is likely to grow by more than 50% over the period 2010 to 2040, with fossil fuels supplying 80% of the total, despite a growth in renewables and nuclear power.

It sees coal as remaining dominant in the electricity generation sector: global consumption will rise by 1.3% a year  – from 147 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy in 2010 to 180 quadrillion Btu in 2020 to 220 quadrillion Btu in 2040.

While much of that growth will come from the rapidly growing economies of China and India, coal consumption is at present rising rapidly in other parts of the world.

Coal makes a comeback

The shale gas boom in the US means record amounts of relatively cheap US coal are now available for export. The EIA says US coal exports were more than 115 million tons in 2012, more than double the 2009 figure.

The EU is by far the biggest customer for US coal, with exports to the UK alone going up by about 70% in 2012.  A big jump in UK coal use is deemed to be largely responsible for a 4% rise in UK CO2 emissions last year.

Meanwhile Germany, the EU’s economic powerhouse and a country often regarded as a leader in cutting CO2 emissions, is gradually upping its coal use.

It all makes grim reading for those hoping to limit CO2 emissions and prevent runaway global warming. Even in the US – where much has been made of the switch away from coal to less carbon-intensive gas – coal is making a comeback.

With coal prices falling and natural gas prices rising, the EIA says coal’s share of US power generation in the first four months of 2013 averaged 39.5%, compared with 35.4% in the same period last year.

US greenhouse gas emissions have been falling over the past four years: watch out for a rise this year. – Climate News Network

Bank curbs won’t slow coal’s comeback

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Several big banks have said they will apply much more stringent conditions to funding for coal-burning plants, but despite that coal use is rising in many parts of the world. LONDON, 30 July – For those concerned about the impact of coal-burning power plants on the world’s environment, the good news seems to have been arriving thick and fast lately. Coal is the most polluting of fossil fuels and, according to the International Energy Agency, accounts for about 45% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. In mid-July, the World Bank announced it was significantly scaling back funding for coal-fired power stations due to concerns about emissions and global warming. In future, said the Bank, it would limit such financial assistance to “only rare circumstances.” Then the US Export-Import Bank announced it had decided not to support funding for a multi-million dollar coal-fired power plant in Vietnam. A few days later the European Investment Bank (EIB) – the world’s biggest public bank – followed the World Bank’s lead, introducing new lending criteria which, if properly implemented, would rule out future financial support for lignite and so-called “dirty coal” power plants. There were also indications the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) could be bringing in coal-lending restrictions. But, as a pessimist might say, every silver lining has a dark cloud attached to it. A big test of the World Bank’s resolve will likely be made early next year when it will decide whether to give funding guarantees to a highly controversial power plant using “dirty” coal in Kosovo.

Burgeoning growth

The EIB’s new criteria on coal lending – tied to specified limits on fossil fuel power plant emissions – have been criticised as being too generous to polluters, while the US Ex-Im Bank continues to back coal-fired power stations in many parts of the world. And then there’s the bigger picture: the world is using coal for energy generation like never before, and projections are for consumption to grow by at least a third by 2040, possibly by a half if the worst case scenarios are fulfilled. The US Federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) has just released its comprehensive International Energy Outlook 2013. The EIA says world energy consumption is likely to grow by more than 50% over the period 2010 to 2040, with fossil fuels supplying 80% of the total, despite a growth in renewables and nuclear power. It sees coal as remaining dominant in the electricity generation sector: global consumption will rise by 1.3% a year  – from 147 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy in 2010 to 180 quadrillion Btu in 2020 to 220 quadrillion Btu in 2040. While much of that growth will come from the rapidly growing economies of China and India, coal consumption is at present rising rapidly in other parts of the world.

Coal makes a comeback

The shale gas boom in the US means record amounts of relatively cheap US coal are now available for export. The EIA says US coal exports were more than 115 million tons in 2012, more than double the 2009 figure. The EU is by far the biggest customer for US coal, with exports to the UK alone going up by about 70% in 2012.  A big jump in UK coal use is deemed to be largely responsible for a 4% rise in UK CO2 emissions last year. Meanwhile Germany, the EU’s economic powerhouse and a country often regarded as a leader in cutting CO2 emissions, is gradually upping its coal use. It all makes grim reading for those hoping to limit CO2 emissions and prevent runaway global warming. Even in the US – where much has been made of the switch away from coal to less carbon-intensive gas – coal is making a comeback. With coal prices falling and natural gas prices rising, the EIA says coal’s share of US power generation in the first four months of 2013 averaged 39.5%, compared with 35.4% in the same period last year. US greenhouse gas emissions have been falling over the past four years: watch out for a rise this year. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Several big banks have said they will apply much more stringent conditions to funding for coal-burning plants, but despite that coal use is rising in many parts of the world. LONDON, 30 July – For those concerned about the impact of coal-burning power plants on the world’s environment, the good news seems to have been arriving thick and fast lately. Coal is the most polluting of fossil fuels and, according to the International Energy Agency, accounts for about 45% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. In mid-July, the World Bank announced it was significantly scaling back funding for coal-fired power stations due to concerns about emissions and global warming. In future, said the Bank, it would limit such financial assistance to “only rare circumstances.” Then the US Export-Import Bank announced it had decided not to support funding for a multi-million dollar coal-fired power plant in Vietnam. A few days later the European Investment Bank (EIB) – the world’s biggest public bank – followed the World Bank’s lead, introducing new lending criteria which, if properly implemented, would rule out future financial support for lignite and so-called “dirty coal” power plants. There were also indications the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) could be bringing in coal-lending restrictions. But, as a pessimist might say, every silver lining has a dark cloud attached to it. A big test of the World Bank’s resolve will likely be made early next year when it will decide whether to give funding guarantees to a highly controversial power plant using “dirty” coal in Kosovo.

Burgeoning growth

The EIB’s new criteria on coal lending – tied to specified limits on fossil fuel power plant emissions – have been criticised as being too generous to polluters, while the US Ex-Im Bank continues to back coal-fired power stations in many parts of the world. And then there’s the bigger picture: the world is using coal for energy generation like never before, and projections are for consumption to grow by at least a third by 2040, possibly by a half if the worst case scenarios are fulfilled. The US Federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) has just released its comprehensive International Energy Outlook 2013. The EIA says world energy consumption is likely to grow by more than 50% over the period 2010 to 2040, with fossil fuels supplying 80% of the total, despite a growth in renewables and nuclear power. It sees coal as remaining dominant in the electricity generation sector: global consumption will rise by 1.3% a year  – from 147 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy in 2010 to 180 quadrillion Btu in 2020 to 220 quadrillion Btu in 2040. While much of that growth will come from the rapidly growing economies of China and India, coal consumption is at present rising rapidly in other parts of the world.

Coal makes a comeback

The shale gas boom in the US means record amounts of relatively cheap US coal are now available for export. The EIA says US coal exports were more than 115 million tons in 2012, more than double the 2009 figure. The EU is by far the biggest customer for US coal, with exports to the UK alone going up by about 70% in 2012.  A big jump in UK coal use is deemed to be largely responsible for a 4% rise in UK CO2 emissions last year. Meanwhile Germany, the EU’s economic powerhouse and a country often regarded as a leader in cutting CO2 emissions, is gradually upping its coal use. It all makes grim reading for those hoping to limit CO2 emissions and prevent runaway global warming. Even in the US – where much has been made of the switch away from coal to less carbon-intensive gas – coal is making a comeback. With coal prices falling and natural gas prices rising, the EIA says coal’s share of US power generation in the first four months of 2013 averaged 39.5%, compared with 35.4% in the same period last year. US greenhouse gas emissions have been falling over the past four years: watch out for a rise this year. – Climate News Network

China 'moving to lead on climate change'

EMBARGOED until 1401 GMT on Sunday 28 April
The world’s two greatest emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the US, earn high praise for their efforts to tackle climate change from an Australian report. But it says much more radical global action is urgently needed.

LONDON, 28 April – Both China and the US, the world’s two principal emitters of greenhouse gases, have been making significant recent progress on tackling climate change, a report by an influential Australian advisory group says.

Its report, The Critical Decade: Global Action Building on Climate Change, has particular praise for China, saying its efforts “demonstrate accelerating global leadership”.

The other “energy giant”, the US, is also commended for showing “a new commitment to lead”. The report says the US “appears to be gaining momentum with President Barack Obama outlining his strong intent to address climate change…”

The report is the work of the Australian Climate Commission, an independent body set up in 2011 to provide authoritative and trustworthy information on climate change science and solutions.

Its authors are Professor Tim Flannery, chair of the Commission, Gerry Hueston, former CEO of BP Australasia, and Roger Beale, an economist and former Secretary of the Australian Department of Environment.

The report says China and the US, the world’s two largest economies which together produce about 37% of world emissions, are both on track to meet their international commitments on climate change, something they said in this month’s “historic agreement” they would tackle together. “Today the energy giants are undoubtedly on the move, which will fuel global momentum.”

Halving electricity demand

China earns praise for several reasons. It is reducing its emissions growth, and in 2012 cut the carbon intensity of its economy more than expected. After years of strong growth in coal use, the rate of growth has declined substantially. It is also “the world’s renewable energy powerhouse”.

Professor Flannery says: “China has halved its growth in electricity demand… [and] is quickly moving to the top of the leader board on climate change.”

Emissions have also been declining in the US, which is on track to meet its goal of cutting them by 17% on 2005 levels by 2020. The authors note that the economic downturn and a shift away from coal to gas have helped here.

Global progress on renewable energy Image: Climate Commission

Global progress on renewable energy
Image: Climate Commission

The report says every major economy is tackling climate change, introducing policies to drive down emissions and encouraging renewable energy.

But in a section headed “This is the critical decade for action”, it says the significant progress made so far is not enough. “Globally emissions are continuing to rise strongly, posing serious risks for our society. This decade must set the foundations to reduce emissions rapidly to nearly zero by 2050.”

The scale and the pace of the changes needed to reduce emissions as drastically as that – something which many scientists insist is vital – is a huge challenge, and many countries appear on present trends very unlikely to meet it.

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 April, headlined “Japan turns back to coal-fired power plants”, included this observation on the country’s post-Fukushima prospects: “…with the government considering the closure of much of the installed nuclear capacity over the medium term, the spotlight is back on coal as the cheapest energy source, notwithstanding plans to cut carbon emissions.

“A commitment to slice 2020 carbon emissions by 25 per cent from their 1990 level will be revised by October, according to Japanese newspaper reports.”

Action needed now

The Australian report’s praise for China and the US commends their recent performance – or at least their stated intentions – in comparison with their past records. But they will need to do far more than show the relative improvement the Commission recognises.

If the Earth is still to have any chance of staying below the 2°C global average temperature rise which most governments say is essential to prevent dangerous climate change, the energy giants (and the rest of the world) will have to make vastly greater absolute progress.  – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 1401 GMT on Sunday 28 April
The world’s two greatest emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the US, earn high praise for their efforts to tackle climate change from an Australian report. But it says much more radical global action is urgently needed.

LONDON, 28 April – Both China and the US, the world’s two principal emitters of greenhouse gases, have been making significant recent progress on tackling climate change, a report by an influential Australian advisory group says.

Its report, The Critical Decade: Global Action Building on Climate Change, has particular praise for China, saying its efforts “demonstrate accelerating global leadership”.

The other “energy giant”, the US, is also commended for showing “a new commitment to lead”. The report says the US “appears to be gaining momentum with President Barack Obama outlining his strong intent to address climate change…”

The report is the work of the Australian Climate Commission, an independent body set up in 2011 to provide authoritative and trustworthy information on climate change science and solutions.

Its authors are Professor Tim Flannery, chair of the Commission, Gerry Hueston, former CEO of BP Australasia, and Roger Beale, an economist and former Secretary of the Australian Department of Environment.

The report says China and the US, the world’s two largest economies which together produce about 37% of world emissions, are both on track to meet their international commitments on climate change, something they said in this month’s “historic agreement” they would tackle together. “Today the energy giants are undoubtedly on the move, which will fuel global momentum.”

Halving electricity demand

China earns praise for several reasons. It is reducing its emissions growth, and in 2012 cut the carbon intensity of its economy more than expected. After years of strong growth in coal use, the rate of growth has declined substantially. It is also “the world’s renewable energy powerhouse”.

Professor Flannery says: “China has halved its growth in electricity demand… [and] is quickly moving to the top of the leader board on climate change.”

Emissions have also been declining in the US, which is on track to meet its goal of cutting them by 17% on 2005 levels by 2020. The authors note that the economic downturn and a shift away from coal to gas have helped here.

Global progress on renewable energy Image: Climate Commission

Global progress on renewable energy
Image: Climate Commission

The report says every major economy is tackling climate change, introducing policies to drive down emissions and encouraging renewable energy.

But in a section headed “This is the critical decade for action”, it says the significant progress made so far is not enough. “Globally emissions are continuing to rise strongly, posing serious risks for our society. This decade must set the foundations to reduce emissions rapidly to nearly zero by 2050.”

The scale and the pace of the changes needed to reduce emissions as drastically as that – something which many scientists insist is vital – is a huge challenge, and many countries appear on present trends very unlikely to meet it.

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 April, headlined “Japan turns back to coal-fired power plants”, included this observation on the country’s post-Fukushima prospects: “…with the government considering the closure of much of the installed nuclear capacity over the medium term, the spotlight is back on coal as the cheapest energy source, notwithstanding plans to cut carbon emissions.

“A commitment to slice 2020 carbon emissions by 25 per cent from their 1990 level will be revised by October, according to Japanese newspaper reports.”

Action needed now

The Australian report’s praise for China and the US commends their recent performance – or at least their stated intentions – in comparison with their past records. But they will need to do far more than show the relative improvement the Commission recognises.

If the Earth is still to have any chance of staying below the 2°C global average temperature rise which most governments say is essential to prevent dangerous climate change, the energy giants (and the rest of the world) will have to make vastly greater absolute progress.  – Climate News Network

China ‘moving to lead on climate change’

EMBARGOED until 1401 GMT on Sunday 28 April The world’s two greatest emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the US, earn high praise for their efforts to tackle climate change from an Australian report. But it says much more radical global action is urgently needed. LONDON, 28 April – Both China and the US, the world’s two principal emitters of greenhouse gases, have been making significant recent progress on tackling climate change, a report by an influential Australian advisory group says. Its report, The Critical Decade: Global Action Building on Climate Change, has particular praise for China, saying its efforts “demonstrate accelerating global leadership”. The other “energy giant”, the US, is also commended for showing “a new commitment to lead”. The report says the US “appears to be gaining momentum with President Barack Obama outlining his strong intent to address climate change…” The report is the work of the Australian Climate Commission, an independent body set up in 2011 to provide authoritative and trustworthy information on climate change science and solutions. Its authors are Professor Tim Flannery, chair of the Commission, Gerry Hueston, former CEO of BP Australasia, and Roger Beale, an economist and former Secretary of the Australian Department of Environment. The report says China and the US, the world’s two largest economies which together produce about 37% of world emissions, are both on track to meet their international commitments on climate change, something they said in this month’s “historic agreement” they would tackle together. “Today the energy giants are undoubtedly on the move, which will fuel global momentum.”

Halving electricity demand

China earns praise for several reasons. It is reducing its emissions growth, and in 2012 cut the carbon intensity of its economy more than expected. After years of strong growth in coal use, the rate of growth has declined substantially. It is also “the world’s renewable energy powerhouse”. Professor Flannery says: “China has halved its growth in electricity demand… [and] is quickly moving to the top of the leader board on climate change.” Emissions have also been declining in the US, which is on track to meet its goal of cutting them by 17% on 2005 levels by 2020. The authors note that the economic downturn and a shift away from coal to gas have helped here.

Global progress on renewable energy Image: Climate Commission

Global progress on renewable energy
Image: Climate Commission

The report says every major economy is tackling climate change, introducing policies to drive down emissions and encouraging renewable energy. But in a section headed “This is the critical decade for action”, it says the significant progress made so far is not enough. “Globally emissions are continuing to rise strongly, posing serious risks for our society. This decade must set the foundations to reduce emissions rapidly to nearly zero by 2050.” The scale and the pace of the changes needed to reduce emissions as drastically as that – something which many scientists insist is vital – is a huge challenge, and many countries appear on present trends very unlikely to meet it. A report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 April, headlined “Japan turns back to coal-fired power plants”, included this observation on the country’s post-Fukushima prospects: “…with the government considering the closure of much of the installed nuclear capacity over the medium term, the spotlight is back on coal as the cheapest energy source, notwithstanding plans to cut carbon emissions. “A commitment to slice 2020 carbon emissions by 25 per cent from their 1990 level will be revised by October, according to Japanese newspaper reports.”

Action needed now

The Australian report’s praise for China and the US commends their recent performance – or at least their stated intentions – in comparison with their past records. But they will need to do far more than show the relative improvement the Commission recognises. If the Earth is still to have any chance of staying below the 2°C global average temperature rise which most governments say is essential to prevent dangerous climate change, the energy giants (and the rest of the world) will have to make vastly greater absolute progress.  – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 1401 GMT on Sunday 28 April The world’s two greatest emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the US, earn high praise for their efforts to tackle climate change from an Australian report. But it says much more radical global action is urgently needed. LONDON, 28 April – Both China and the US, the world’s two principal emitters of greenhouse gases, have been making significant recent progress on tackling climate change, a report by an influential Australian advisory group says. Its report, The Critical Decade: Global Action Building on Climate Change, has particular praise for China, saying its efforts “demonstrate accelerating global leadership”. The other “energy giant”, the US, is also commended for showing “a new commitment to lead”. The report says the US “appears to be gaining momentum with President Barack Obama outlining his strong intent to address climate change…” The report is the work of the Australian Climate Commission, an independent body set up in 2011 to provide authoritative and trustworthy information on climate change science and solutions. Its authors are Professor Tim Flannery, chair of the Commission, Gerry Hueston, former CEO of BP Australasia, and Roger Beale, an economist and former Secretary of the Australian Department of Environment. The report says China and the US, the world’s two largest economies which together produce about 37% of world emissions, are both on track to meet their international commitments on climate change, something they said in this month’s “historic agreement” they would tackle together. “Today the energy giants are undoubtedly on the move, which will fuel global momentum.”

Halving electricity demand

China earns praise for several reasons. It is reducing its emissions growth, and in 2012 cut the carbon intensity of its economy more than expected. After years of strong growth in coal use, the rate of growth has declined substantially. It is also “the world’s renewable energy powerhouse”. Professor Flannery says: “China has halved its growth in electricity demand… [and] is quickly moving to the top of the leader board on climate change.” Emissions have also been declining in the US, which is on track to meet its goal of cutting them by 17% on 2005 levels by 2020. The authors note that the economic downturn and a shift away from coal to gas have helped here.

Global progress on renewable energy Image: Climate Commission

Global progress on renewable energy
Image: Climate Commission

The report says every major economy is tackling climate change, introducing policies to drive down emissions and encouraging renewable energy. But in a section headed “This is the critical decade for action”, it says the significant progress made so far is not enough. “Globally emissions are continuing to rise strongly, posing serious risks for our society. This decade must set the foundations to reduce emissions rapidly to nearly zero by 2050.” The scale and the pace of the changes needed to reduce emissions as drastically as that – something which many scientists insist is vital – is a huge challenge, and many countries appear on present trends very unlikely to meet it. A report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 April, headlined “Japan turns back to coal-fired power plants”, included this observation on the country’s post-Fukushima prospects: “…with the government considering the closure of much of the installed nuclear capacity over the medium term, the spotlight is back on coal as the cheapest energy source, notwithstanding plans to cut carbon emissions. “A commitment to slice 2020 carbon emissions by 25 per cent from their 1990 level will be revised by October, according to Japanese newspaper reports.”

Action needed now

The Australian report’s praise for China and the US commends their recent performance – or at least their stated intentions – in comparison with their past records. But they will need to do far more than show the relative improvement the Commission recognises. If the Earth is still to have any chance of staying below the 2°C global average temperature rise which most governments say is essential to prevent dangerous climate change, the energy giants (and the rest of the world) will have to make vastly greater absolute progress.  – Climate News Network

Old King Coal keeps rollin' along

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Wednesday 27 March
Emissions by the US of greenhouse gases are still coming down – within the USA itself. But American exports of coal, and now of shale gas, are on the rise, in effect exporting the pollution which has been avoided at home.  

LONDON, 26 March – The good news is that US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are continuing to decline. “Over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen”, said President Obama in his State of the Union address last month.

The bad news is the US is exporting its polluting gases, particularly in the form of coal, like never before. Figures released earlier this month by the official US Energy Information Administration (EIA) show US coal exports reached a record of more than 115 million tons in 2012, more than double the 2009 figure.

In a report examining the legal implications of increased US coal exports, the Columbia Law School notes that GHG emissions are not just a national issue.

“Because the impacts of CO2 emissions are global in nature, it makes no difference from a climate change perspective whether coal mined in Wyoming is consumed in Chicago or Shanghai”, it says.

Coal is far more polluting in terms of GHGs than either oil or gas, emitting higher levels of CO2 and also other toxic substances such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury.

The drop in US GHG emissions – according to the EIA, total US carbon emissions have now fallen by more than 8% since peaking in 2007 – is in part due to the economic slowdown, but more so to a move from coal-fired electricity generation to less carbon-intensive natural gas, particularly gas produced from hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”.

In 2005 coal accounted for half of all electricity generation in the US: now it generates 37% of the country’s electricity, with forecasts that figure will drop to around 20% by 2030.

Attractive to importers

 

The move to gas has been spurred both by tougher regulations on pollution and, with gas production booming, an overall drop in energy prices. There has also been strong growth in renewable energies, particularly in solar power.

US coal giants such as Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy have not let the decline in domestic demand faze them. Instead they’ve gone wholesale into export markets, particularly in Europe, with coal-exporting terminals on the US east coast operating at maximum capacity.

High gas prices within the EU make US coal extremely competitive as an energy source. Bad weather has contributed to an uptake in demand.

The collapse in price on the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme carbon market and a vast oversupply of so-called pollution permits is another reason for the surge in US coal imports. Worries about energy security and an over-dependence on gas supplies from Russia and the countries of central Asia are additional factors driving the trade.

EIA figures show Europe is now by far the biggest customer for US coal, importing more than all other markets combined. US exports to the UK jumped by about 70% in 2012.

Exports to Germany, which phased out nuclear power generation in response to the  the Fukushima accident in Japan, have also increased.

Europe’s energy companies are taking advantage of relatively cheap coal imports while they can. EU regulations, particularly the Large Combustion Plants Directive, stipulate that older coal plants which do not meet stringent targets on lower emissions levels have to be phased out.

All eyes on Asia

While tighter regulations on pollution could result in a decline in US coal exports to Europe in the years ahead, it’s unlikely producers in Pennsylvania or Montana will be cutting back on their activities. Asia, by far the biggest coal-consuming region, where demand continues to grow, is the next target.

At present the US is the world’s fourth largest exporter of coal – after Australia, Indonesia and Russia. US firms are now setting their sights on the big markets in Asia, particularly China and India.

Coal lobbyists are pushing for new coal terminals to be built on the US west coast to provide easier access to Asia. Exports to China – the world’s biggest coal producer and consumer – have been growing rapidly. Last year one US coal company signed a $7 bn export agreement with an Indian conglomerate. Other deals are in the pipeline.

A recent report from the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research looked at the growth of the shale gas industry in the US and questioned whether it had contributed to a global drop in CO2 emissions.

The answer was no. Tyndall’s calculations suggest that more than half of the emissions avoided in the US power sector – through the switch from coal to gas – may have been exported as coal.

“Without a meaningful cap on global carbon emissions, the exploitation of shale gas is likely to increase total emissions”, said the report. “For this not to be the case, consumption of displaced fuels must be reduced globally and remain suppressed indefinitely. In effect displaced coal must stay in the ground.” – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Wednesday 27 March
Emissions by the US of greenhouse gases are still coming down – within the USA itself. But American exports of coal, and now of shale gas, are on the rise, in effect exporting the pollution which has been avoided at home.  

LONDON, 26 March – The good news is that US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are continuing to decline. “Over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen”, said President Obama in his State of the Union address last month.

The bad news is the US is exporting its polluting gases, particularly in the form of coal, like never before. Figures released earlier this month by the official US Energy Information Administration (EIA) show US coal exports reached a record of more than 115 million tons in 2012, more than double the 2009 figure.

In a report examining the legal implications of increased US coal exports, the Columbia Law School notes that GHG emissions are not just a national issue.

“Because the impacts of CO2 emissions are global in nature, it makes no difference from a climate change perspective whether coal mined in Wyoming is consumed in Chicago or Shanghai”, it says.

Coal is far more polluting in terms of GHGs than either oil or gas, emitting higher levels of CO2 and also other toxic substances such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury.

The drop in US GHG emissions – according to the EIA, total US carbon emissions have now fallen by more than 8% since peaking in 2007 – is in part due to the economic slowdown, but more so to a move from coal-fired electricity generation to less carbon-intensive natural gas, particularly gas produced from hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”.

In 2005 coal accounted for half of all electricity generation in the US: now it generates 37% of the country’s electricity, with forecasts that figure will drop to around 20% by 2030.

Attractive to importers

 

The move to gas has been spurred both by tougher regulations on pollution and, with gas production booming, an overall drop in energy prices. There has also been strong growth in renewable energies, particularly in solar power.

US coal giants such as Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy have not let the decline in domestic demand faze them. Instead they’ve gone wholesale into export markets, particularly in Europe, with coal-exporting terminals on the US east coast operating at maximum capacity.

High gas prices within the EU make US coal extremely competitive as an energy source. Bad weather has contributed to an uptake in demand.

The collapse in price on the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme carbon market and a vast oversupply of so-called pollution permits is another reason for the surge in US coal imports. Worries about energy security and an over-dependence on gas supplies from Russia and the countries of central Asia are additional factors driving the trade.

EIA figures show Europe is now by far the biggest customer for US coal, importing more than all other markets combined. US exports to the UK jumped by about 70% in 2012.

Exports to Germany, which phased out nuclear power generation in response to the  the Fukushima accident in Japan, have also increased.

Europe’s energy companies are taking advantage of relatively cheap coal imports while they can. EU regulations, particularly the Large Combustion Plants Directive, stipulate that older coal plants which do not meet stringent targets on lower emissions levels have to be phased out.

All eyes on Asia

While tighter regulations on pollution could result in a decline in US coal exports to Europe in the years ahead, it’s unlikely producers in Pennsylvania or Montana will be cutting back on their activities. Asia, by far the biggest coal-consuming region, where demand continues to grow, is the next target.

At present the US is the world’s fourth largest exporter of coal – after Australia, Indonesia and Russia. US firms are now setting their sights on the big markets in Asia, particularly China and India.

Coal lobbyists are pushing for new coal terminals to be built on the US west coast to provide easier access to Asia. Exports to China – the world’s biggest coal producer and consumer – have been growing rapidly. Last year one US coal company signed a $7 bn export agreement with an Indian conglomerate. Other deals are in the pipeline.

A recent report from the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research looked at the growth of the shale gas industry in the US and questioned whether it had contributed to a global drop in CO2 emissions.

The answer was no. Tyndall’s calculations suggest that more than half of the emissions avoided in the US power sector – through the switch from coal to gas – may have been exported as coal.

“Without a meaningful cap on global carbon emissions, the exploitation of shale gas is likely to increase total emissions”, said the report. “For this not to be the case, consumption of displaced fuels must be reduced globally and remain suppressed indefinitely. In effect displaced coal must stay in the ground.” – Climate News Network

Old King Coal keeps rollin’ along

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Wednesday 27 March Emissions by the US of greenhouse gases are still coming down – within the USA itself. But American exports of coal, and now of shale gas, are on the rise, in effect exporting the pollution which has been avoided at home.   LONDON, 26 March – The good news is that US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are continuing to decline. “Over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen”, said President Obama in his State of the Union address last month. The bad news is the US is exporting its polluting gases, particularly in the form of coal, like never before. Figures released earlier this month by the official US Energy Information Administration (EIA) show US coal exports reached a record of more than 115 million tons in 2012, more than double the 2009 figure. In a report examining the legal implications of increased US coal exports, the Columbia Law School notes that GHG emissions are not just a national issue. “Because the impacts of CO2 emissions are global in nature, it makes no difference from a climate change perspective whether coal mined in Wyoming is consumed in Chicago or Shanghai”, it says. Coal is far more polluting in terms of GHGs than either oil or gas, emitting higher levels of CO2 and also other toxic substances such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury. The drop in US GHG emissions – according to the EIA, total US carbon emissions have now fallen by more than 8% since peaking in 2007 – is in part due to the economic slowdown, but more so to a move from coal-fired electricity generation to less carbon-intensive natural gas, particularly gas produced from hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. In 2005 coal accounted for half of all electricity generation in the US: now it generates 37% of the country’s electricity, with forecasts that figure will drop to around 20% by 2030.

Attractive to importers

  The move to gas has been spurred both by tougher regulations on pollution and, with gas production booming, an overall drop in energy prices. There has also been strong growth in renewable energies, particularly in solar power. US coal giants such as Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy have not let the decline in domestic demand faze them. Instead they’ve gone wholesale into export markets, particularly in Europe, with coal-exporting terminals on the US east coast operating at maximum capacity. High gas prices within the EU make US coal extremely competitive as an energy source. Bad weather has contributed to an uptake in demand. The collapse in price on the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme carbon market and a vast oversupply of so-called pollution permits is another reason for the surge in US coal imports. Worries about energy security and an over-dependence on gas supplies from Russia and the countries of central Asia are additional factors driving the trade. EIA figures show Europe is now by far the biggest customer for US coal, importing more than all other markets combined. US exports to the UK jumped by about 70% in 2012. Exports to Germany, which phased out nuclear power generation in response to the  the Fukushima accident in Japan, have also increased. Europe’s energy companies are taking advantage of relatively cheap coal imports while they can. EU regulations, particularly the Large Combustion Plants Directive, stipulate that older coal plants which do not meet stringent targets on lower emissions levels have to be phased out.

All eyes on Asia

While tighter regulations on pollution could result in a decline in US coal exports to Europe in the years ahead, it’s unlikely producers in Pennsylvania or Montana will be cutting back on their activities. Asia, by far the biggest coal-consuming region, where demand continues to grow, is the next target. At present the US is the world’s fourth largest exporter of coal – after Australia, Indonesia and Russia. US firms are now setting their sights on the big markets in Asia, particularly China and India. Coal lobbyists are pushing for new coal terminals to be built on the US west coast to provide easier access to Asia. Exports to China – the world’s biggest coal producer and consumer – have been growing rapidly. Last year one US coal company signed a $7 bn export agreement with an Indian conglomerate. Other deals are in the pipeline. A recent report from the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research looked at the growth of the shale gas industry in the US and questioned whether it had contributed to a global drop in CO2 emissions. The answer was no. Tyndall’s calculations suggest that more than half of the emissions avoided in the US power sector – through the switch from coal to gas – may have been exported as coal. “Without a meaningful cap on global carbon emissions, the exploitation of shale gas is likely to increase total emissions”, said the report. “For this not to be the case, consumption of displaced fuels must be reduced globally and remain suppressed indefinitely. In effect displaced coal must stay in the ground.” – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Wednesday 27 March Emissions by the US of greenhouse gases are still coming down – within the USA itself. But American exports of coal, and now of shale gas, are on the rise, in effect exporting the pollution which has been avoided at home.   LONDON, 26 March – The good news is that US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are continuing to decline. “Over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen”, said President Obama in his State of the Union address last month. The bad news is the US is exporting its polluting gases, particularly in the form of coal, like never before. Figures released earlier this month by the official US Energy Information Administration (EIA) show US coal exports reached a record of more than 115 million tons in 2012, more than double the 2009 figure. In a report examining the legal implications of increased US coal exports, the Columbia Law School notes that GHG emissions are not just a national issue. “Because the impacts of CO2 emissions are global in nature, it makes no difference from a climate change perspective whether coal mined in Wyoming is consumed in Chicago or Shanghai”, it says. Coal is far more polluting in terms of GHGs than either oil or gas, emitting higher levels of CO2 and also other toxic substances such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury. The drop in US GHG emissions – according to the EIA, total US carbon emissions have now fallen by more than 8% since peaking in 2007 – is in part due to the economic slowdown, but more so to a move from coal-fired electricity generation to less carbon-intensive natural gas, particularly gas produced from hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. In 2005 coal accounted for half of all electricity generation in the US: now it generates 37% of the country’s electricity, with forecasts that figure will drop to around 20% by 2030.

Attractive to importers

  The move to gas has been spurred both by tougher regulations on pollution and, with gas production booming, an overall drop in energy prices. There has also been strong growth in renewable energies, particularly in solar power. US coal giants such as Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy have not let the decline in domestic demand faze them. Instead they’ve gone wholesale into export markets, particularly in Europe, with coal-exporting terminals on the US east coast operating at maximum capacity. High gas prices within the EU make US coal extremely competitive as an energy source. Bad weather has contributed to an uptake in demand. The collapse in price on the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme carbon market and a vast oversupply of so-called pollution permits is another reason for the surge in US coal imports. Worries about energy security and an over-dependence on gas supplies from Russia and the countries of central Asia are additional factors driving the trade. EIA figures show Europe is now by far the biggest customer for US coal, importing more than all other markets combined. US exports to the UK jumped by about 70% in 2012. Exports to Germany, which phased out nuclear power generation in response to the  the Fukushima accident in Japan, have also increased. Europe’s energy companies are taking advantage of relatively cheap coal imports while they can. EU regulations, particularly the Large Combustion Plants Directive, stipulate that older coal plants which do not meet stringent targets on lower emissions levels have to be phased out.

All eyes on Asia

While tighter regulations on pollution could result in a decline in US coal exports to Europe in the years ahead, it’s unlikely producers in Pennsylvania or Montana will be cutting back on their activities. Asia, by far the biggest coal-consuming region, where demand continues to grow, is the next target. At present the US is the world’s fourth largest exporter of coal – after Australia, Indonesia and Russia. US firms are now setting their sights on the big markets in Asia, particularly China and India. Coal lobbyists are pushing for new coal terminals to be built on the US west coast to provide easier access to Asia. Exports to China – the world’s biggest coal producer and consumer – have been growing rapidly. Last year one US coal company signed a $7 bn export agreement with an Indian conglomerate. Other deals are in the pipeline. A recent report from the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research looked at the growth of the shale gas industry in the US and questioned whether it had contributed to a global drop in CO2 emissions. The answer was no. Tyndall’s calculations suggest that more than half of the emissions avoided in the US power sector – through the switch from coal to gas – may have been exported as coal. “Without a meaningful cap on global carbon emissions, the exploitation of shale gas is likely to increase total emissions”, said the report. “For this not to be the case, consumption of displaced fuels must be reduced globally and remain suppressed indefinitely. In effect displaced coal must stay in the ground.” – Climate News Network