Bob Burton

Bob Burton's Blog Posts

CoalWire 252, November 1, 2018

Vietnamese coal plant canned; coal’s role in unhealthy air; Drummond executive jailed; German coal protests grow and phase-out commission presses on; Indian panel seeks port enforcement on ban on coal imports for Delhi; Spanish Government reaches jobs deal on closure plan.

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CoalWire 251, October 25, 2018

South Korean utility says 1000 MW Indonesian plant shelved; New Zealand coal mine rejected; Court rebuffs South African provincial government over rezoning move; US utility finds fast coal exit is the cheapest option; Myanmar villagers challenge military-linked mine plan.

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Trevor St Baker, one of Australia’s last true believers in coal power

Trevor St Baker has a decades-long history in Australia’s coal power sector and has emerged as one of the most prominent opponents in the ranks of the power industry of a rapid transition to greater renewables generation. As opposition to renewables from Australia’s largest electricity utilities has faded, St Baker has emerged as one of the few dissenting voices left.

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The International Energy Agency’s non-existent guideline on curtailing renewables

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reportedly has a guideline which says solar and wind energy should be curtailed to ensure power from coal and other ‘dispatchable’ generation never falls below 50 per cent of generation “at any time”. Or so Trevor St Baker, one of the co-owners of the polluting Vales Point coal power station in Australia, claims.

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CoalWire 234, June 21, 2018

4000MW Indian plant axed; NZ rejects public land bid for mine; Chinese coal-to-gas project rejected; Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects rapid decline for coal and lignite; Trump's bailout plan does little to deter utilities’ coal closure plans.

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CoalWire 233, June 14, 2018

China’s growing power glut; India’s power loans headache; Colombian coal plant expansion axed; Coal plant in Vietnam delayed by US block on Russian company; Protests against coal plant in Kenya spread.

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BHP may dump global group, but looks to forgive Australian coal lobby

BHP has announced it wants to end its membership of the World Coal Association, has put the US Chamber of Commerce on notice but is in a forgiving mood when it comes to the climate and energy policy sins of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA). The MCA, BHP decided, has up to 12 months to lift its climate and energy policy game.

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Coal vs cricket in India

The interruption of the international cricket match in New Delhi between India and Sri Lanka by toxic smog has graphically demonstrated how little effort the Indian Government has put into curbing the country’s toxic air pollution problem.

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BHP under pressure to dump pro-coal lobby groups over climate policy

BHP now faces an acute dilemma: does it keep trying to both run with the hare and hunt with the hounds? Or does it opt to support the intent of the Paris Agreement and publicly dump the Minerals Council of Australia?

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An open letter to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) from members of Philippine civil society

The following is an open letter to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) from members of Philippine civil society, coursed sent to all members of its Board of Governors, in the hope that it will be considered during the Board’s annual meeting to be held in Jeju, South Korea this June 16 to 18, 2017:
Responding to the urgent demands concerning the climate crisis, energy poverty, and the need for development, and recognizing the capacity of people-centered renewable energy systems in providing accessible, clean and safe energy for the people’s benefit, we, the undersigned, call on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to:

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AIIB must deliver real ‘clean and green’ growth: leading South Asian civil society network

Media Release, June 9, 2017

With the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) due to finalize its Energy Sector Strategy in the coming days, the leading South Asian civil society network on debt and development is calling on its leadership to stand strong on its ambition of delivering “Lean, Clean and Green” infrastructure for the region. 

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Anti-coal campaigners of Asia to Indian Minister Piyush Goyal: Coal is not the Answer


May 21, 2017

Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD)

Anti-coal campaigners of Asia to Indian Minister Piyush Goyal:

Coal is not the Answer

In response to a statement by India’s coal minister Piyush Goyal that the Paris Agreement on climate change does not stop any country from meeting its energy needs from whatever source it may choose, the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), a regional alliance that campaigns against coal use and financing said that “the right to development, including energy access, does not mean the right to worsen global warming and destroy existing ecosystems”. 

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Coal consultant warns thermal coal use could plummet – but dodges questions

Wood Mackenzie, a consultancy which is used by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and major coal companies, estimates seaborne thermal coal use would have to fall by 40 per cent by 2035 to meet the target of limiting global warming to a two-degree increase. While Wood Mackenzie issued a media release touting the findings of its 10-page report, which sells for US$4560, it declined to respond to inquiries about its findings or provide a copy of the report.

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Vietnam Needs a 21st Century Electricity Plan

In January this year, Vietnam’s former Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, announced he would “review development plans of all new coal plants and halt any new coal power development”. Such a strong statement was heralded as an indication that the country with the third largest pipeline of coal plants globally was moving away from coal. Two months later, the government released its revised Power Development Plan VII, indicating how the country would meet its electricity needs between 2016 and 2030. The plan contained good and bad news.

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Drought hits Indian coal plants and plans

Despite the Indian Government’s determination to double or even triple domestic coal production, the power sector is now being hit by water scarcity - with a new report warning the crisis could get far, far worse.

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Corruption and Illegalities in the Mining Sector in Indonesia: A Ranking of 12 Provinces involved in Korsup Minerba

In 2014, the Corruption Eradication Commission initiated a scheme to resolve problems in Indonesian mining governance as well as to tackle corruption in the sector, which is known as Korsup Minerba (Supervision Coordination of Mineral and Coal Governance). The scheme involves local governments in 12 provinces in the country; all of which possess large numbers of mining permits, and five of which are centres for coal mining. To date 721 mining licenses, over half of which are coal, have been withdrawn as a result of corruption and illegalities.

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Adani hits panic button over Carmichael coal mine

Bob Burton. Photo: The Abbot Point coal terminal: Greenpeace/Tom Jefferson

In a seemingly desperate move the billionaire chairman of Adani has announced that early in November he met the new Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and demanded  legislation be passed to extinguish legal actions challenging the proposed Carmichael coal mine. 

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China mulls new coal curbs

Sydney Morning Herald, October 10, 2015

“China is considering aggressive new curbs on coal consumption as it accelerates efforts to transform its economy and tackle climate change, moves that would hurt Australia’s export revenue and place new mines in doubt …

Even with power demand basically flat this year, China continues to add almost 1 gigawatt of new coal-fired generating capacity – equivalent to a large power station in Australia – to the grid each week. 

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The Polish Government’s thimble trick with coal

The Polish Government has adapted the illusionists’ old pea-and-thimble trick by taking the assets of a near-bankrupt coal company and hiding them under the cover of another freshly minted state-owned company in the hope that credulous voters will think coal’s glory days will return.

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Russian coal is coming! Or is it?

The warning signs abound for the Russian Government: coal exports have fallen this year, Chinese coal imports have plummeted and renewable electricity is fast becoming the preferred source of new power. Even so, the Russian government seemingly remains determined to press ahead with policies and investments aimed at expanding coal exports and domestic coal-fired power production. How far will they get?

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China August coal imports drop nearly 18 per cent on month

Reuters, 8th September 2015

China, the world’s largest coal buyer, imported 17.49 million tonnes of the fuel in August, down 17.7 per cent from July, with already weak demand affected by a currency devaluation that made foreign coal more expensive … Imports for the first eight months of the year, including low-grade lignite, were down 31.3 per cent compared to last year at 138.6 million tonnes. 

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Coal Seen Dropping Below US$50 in Rout as Output Fails to Slow

Global coal prices “can probably go quite a lot lower,” said Thomas Pugh, an economist in London at Capital Economics. “A lot of it is the downward pressure from a lack of demand in China, the U.S. and Europe. India’s the most recent one: everyone’s been banking on India to take up the slack and it appears they’re just not doing that.”

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Coal, climate change, and the New Zealand economy: winners, losers, and long-term users

As New Zealand reeled with the news a fortnight ago that the government-owned coal company Solid Energy had gone into administration with a $300m debt, another event was happening in the Pacific that puts the debate in a context that it too seldom receives in New Zealand. At the same time, Kiribati Prime Minister Anote Tong wrote to world leaders calling for a moratorium on new coalmines.

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