17 November 2017

Canada and the UK launch new global alliance against coal during COP23

During climate talks in Bonn, Canada and the UK along with the Marshall Islands have launched the “Powering Past Coal” alliance inviting governmental entities from around the world to phase out dirty coal power plants.

Coal production and consumption has been particularly targeted by climate change advocates and policymakers not only due to high carbon and methane emissions from burning and mining but also due to health concerns associated with air pollution generated by coal combustion.

The new alliance was launched with a letter signed by Claire Perry, UK Climate Change and Industry Minister, Catherine McKenna, Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change and John Silk, Marshall Islands’ Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Reuters reports that the letter reads: “Joining Powering Past Coal is an opportunity to bring these national initiatives together, with sub-national and private sector action”.

After the presentation during COP23, the countries issued an official statement saying: “Powering Past Coal brings together a diverse range of governments, businesses, and organisations that are united in taking action to accelerate clean growth and climate protection through the rapid phase-out of traditional coal power”.

“We commit to achieve that phase-out in a sustainable and economically inclusive way, including appropriate support for workers and communities”.

When joining the alliance, governmental partners from national, regional or local levels commit to phase out existing traditional coal power plants in their jurisdictions and to restrict legally and financially the construction of new coal plants that will not come with Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) technologies.

As of 16 November, 27 countries and states have joined the “Powering Past Coal” alliance, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, and Switzerland.  

The coalition aspires to expand its signatories to 50 by the beginning of next year’s COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

Mohamed Adow, international climate lead at Christian Aid told Reuters that the alliance constitutes “a rebuke to President Donald Trump from the UK and Canada, two of America’s closest allies, that his obsession for dirty energy will not spread”.

A report from Climate Analytics- a non-profit climate science and policy institute, argues that for the Paris goals to be met, coal has to be phased out from EU and OECD countries by 2030 and no later than by 2050 in the rest of the world.

The initiative was announced this October after a joint statement from the UK and Canada Ministers called the international community “to accelerate the international transition from burning coal to using cleaner power sources”.

“Phasing unabated coal power out of the energy mix and replacing it with cleaner technologies will significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, improve the health of our communities, and benefit generations to come”, they said. 

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