Climate Change

Coal Power Station Jaenschwalde Braunkohle Kraftwerk Jaenschwalde

Braunkohle Kraftwerk Jaenschwalde © Greenpeace

Coal is the single biggest contributor to anthropogenic climate change. The burning of coal is responsible for 46% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide and accounts for 72% of total  greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the electricity sector. If plans to build up to 1200 new coal fired power stations around the world are realized, the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from these plants would put us on a path towards catastrophic climate change, causing global temperatures to rise by over five degrees Celsius by 2100. This will have dire impacts for all life on earth.

Coal was the fastest-growing primary energy source in the world in the past decade: between 2001 and 2010, world consumption of coal increased by 45%. During the same time period, total anthropogenic GHG emissions were the highest in human history. According to the International Energy Agency, to have a 50% chance of staying within 2 degrees celsius of global warming, only zero carbon utilities and infrastructure should be developed beyond 2017. This means that the age of coal must soon come to an end.

There is cause for hope. A growing global movement is challenging the coal industry’s expansion and promoting real solutions to electricity needs. Some governments and multilateral banks are beginning to recognize that the costs of coal generation are unacceptable and are rejecting financing for new coal plants.Grassroots activists have also started a burgeoning movement to pressure universities and institutional investors to divest from coal. To avoid catastrophic climate change, it is clear that we must end our dependence on coal and invest in affordable and sustainable renewable energy.

 

Featured Resources

A Shrinking Coal Plant Pipeline: Mid-2016 Results from the Global Coal Plant Tracker

Christine Shearer, Aiqun Yu, and Ted Nace

The amount of coal power capacity under development worldwide saw a dramatic drop in the first half of 2016, mainly due to shifting policies in Asia, according to a survey by CoalSwarm’s Global Coal Plant Tracker. 

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The incompatibility of high-efficient coal technology with 2 degrees scenarios

This report shows that high efficiency coal plants are incompatible with the goal to keep global temperature rises to under 2°C. The global carbon budget and the time remaining to reduce greenhouse gas emissions simply do not allow for replacement of retired coal plants with new more efficient coal plants, let alone construction of new coal plants, regardless of the technology. Read More

Coal’s Lonely Lobbyists: The Growing Isolation of the Coal Mining Industry

This report is the result of a survey of more than twenty companies that have been removed from the National Mining Association and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity’s membership list. It reveals the beginnings of a mass exodus away from the coal mining lobby amid declining coal prices and withdrawal of the industry's social license. Read More

China is hitting its climate targets years ahead of schedule

China’s 13th five-year plan is quite possibly the most important document in the world in setting the pace of acting on climate change. 

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Let Them Eat Coal

Report by Oxfam in the lead up to the G7 meeting, arguing why the G7 must stop burning coal to tackle climate change and fight hunger. Read More
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