With Tesla kicking off a battery storage revolution, renewables booming globally, and the international coal market moving into structural decline, 2015 may well be the year the illusion that coal has a future in a carbon-constrained world is dispelled permanently. While countries like Australia and Japan are keen to gamble their economic and political futures on coal, the US, China, Germany and many others have recognised that promoting coal is like putting lipstick on a zombie, and are running away from it before it devours their futures. There is simply no space for coal, and the window to abandon it and save the world from irreversible climate change is closing. Banks need to, and are, abandoning coal projects; massive unfunded liabilities are emerging from coalfields throughout Britain; billions in value writedowns are pushing the Australian coal industry towards the abyss; and Goldman Sachs is attempting to sell its coal mines at a loss. The coal industry will not disappear overnight, but there is little doubt it is in terminal decline, and with its back against the wall it is getting desperate. Indian coal conglomerate Adani has been busted fabricating job and royalty figures in a desperate attempt to get its vast Carmichael mine off the ground in Australia, while US coal giant Peabody Energy’s billion dollar losses has seen it turn to faking social media support for a mendacious PR campaign to reposition its dirty product as a “moral” choice for solving energy poverty. Neither have had much success, as cheap coal is a lie, and it is absolutely not moral, and curbing its emissions will save thousands of lives. Without an economic argument, all it is left with is the damage it does to health, local environments, and the global climate.
- RT @StollMeyerEU: UN #climate chief says #science is clear: there is NO SPACE FOR NEW #COAL http://t.co/Z64RDWYVDZ #EnergyUnion #COP21
- Share: Climate fight won’t wait for Paris. Vive la resistance (Bill McKibben / The Guardian)
- Share: Cheap coal is a lie – stand up to the industry’s cynical fightback (Al Gore / The Guardian)
- Share: Open letter to Shell’s Ben van Beurden (John Ashton / The Guardian)
- Share: The Immorality of Coal (ARRCC / Project-Syndicate)
- Share: Japan’s historic climate leadership appears in doubt (John Prescott / Kyodo)
- Join: Keep it in the ground (The Guardian)
- Download book: The Winning Of the Carbon War (Jeremy Leggett, Carbon Tracker Institute)
- Relevant accounts & hashtags: @AdvancedEnergy @Peabody Energy @Adani #Coal #Climate
- Coal is no longer cheap and dirty. Compared to renewables, it is expensive and dirty. Even with the coal price crashing, renewables are already beating it on price in many markets, and will soon beat it in every place on earth. Coal projects are stranding faster than commodity prices tumble, and companies are getting desperate. US coal giant Peabody continues to push a PR campaign to pressure leaders with faked grassroot support, while Indian conglomerate Adani has apparently taken to fabricating job and royalty figures to sell its proposed projects. Even the low estimates of 7.8 billion in royalties from its Australian mine are dwarfed by climate-related extreme heat impacts in Australia, with heatwaves costing Australian workplaces $7.92 billion a year. Moving to clean global economies will not only have huge benefits to health, jobs, and the environment, it will save vast amounts of money as social, environmental and health costs of climate change are avoided.
- Coal does severe damage to the climate, economies, and human health globally. According to the IEA, coal was responsible for almost 44 per cent of global carbon emissions in 2012, and climate changes that result from these emissions hit people in developing and rural communities first and hardest. China’s airpocalypse is one of the most potent visual representations of the impact of burning coal, but extreme weather events are manifesting globally and the the impact on human health that will be the most immediate result of global warming.
- Coal is not a solution to energy poverty. Renewables are. Energy poverty is concentrated in rural areas, with those without access to electricity predominantly located in sub-Saharan Africa (48 per cent) and India (24 per cent). Carbon Tracker has found that grid costs in rural areas makes building centralised coal plants prohibitively expensive. Given that 93 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa lacking access to energy live in countries that do not produce coal, fuel costs make coal even less affordable. Distributed renewables are already improving the lives of those living in energy poverty.
- ‘Clean coal’ is a myth. Even Japanese coal plants have been shown to be less efficient than the global average, while its supposedly ‘cleaner’ plants are unattractively expensive. 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and almost all coal reserves. This will only be achieved if the world agrees to eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies, to stopping investment in dirty fossil supply chains and technology, and to close legal loopholes that are being used by some countries, like Japan, to count selling coal technology as part of its Green Climate Fund contributions.
- Coal is dead, and it needs to be buried as soon as possible for the world to have any chance of staying below the internationally agreed red line of 2DegC of average global warming. Even 2DegC is a dangerous ceiling to aim for, as that could lock in sea level rise of several metres by mid century, threatening coastal cities, displacing communities, and wiping pacific island nations from the map entirely.
- UN climate chief says the science is clear: there is no space for new coal (The Guardian)
- World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns (The Guardian)
- Australian economist: Tesla battery can solve climate change (Market Watch)
- Adani gilded lily is far from rolled gold (Sydney Morning Herald)
- HSBC Advises Clients Against Fossil Fuel Investment
- Goldman Sachs In Talks To Sell Coal Mines : WSJ (Nasdaq)
- Tesla Unveils Home Battery: 5 Reasons It’s a Big Deal (National Geographic)
- World leaders should take advantage of low oil prices to ditch fossil fuel subsidies (The Guardian)
- What is the ideal oil price for the energy transition? (EnergyPost)
- Australian coal industry takes another step closer to the abyss (Sydney Morning Herald)
- A massive increase in coal mining is a cause for concern (Sydney Morning Herald)
- US coal sector in ‘structural decline’, financial analysts say (The Guardian)
- Queensland’s miners will need a miracle to profit from coal now (The Guardian)
- Big Coal’s big scam: scar the land for profit, then let others pay to clean up (The Guardian)
- Adani Mining feels heat over $14b Galilee Basin coal mine gap (The Age)
- Al Gore: Coal industry campaign on energy poverty is extremely misleading (The Guardian)
- Peabody Energy’s Five Biggest #Fails (Coal is Dirty)
- New Report Speculates on the End of Coal (DeSmog)
- Heatwaves’ impact on workplaces costing Australia $7.92bn a year (The Guardian)
Tools and resources
- Briefing: Has Peabody been fibbing about its G20 coal supporters? (Business Spectator)
- Report: Coal Finance Report Card 2015 (Rainforest Action Network)
- Report: Unburnable carbon 2013: Wasted capital and stranded assets (Carbon Tracker)
- Report: Breaking the Myth About Japanese-Funded Coal Plants (EndCoal)
- Report: Assessing the missed benefits of countries’ national contributions (NewClimate Institute)
- Briefing: Energy Mix 2030 Reality Check: Japan’s Collapse in Nuclear Power Generation (Greenpeace)
- Survey: 85 per cent of Australians choose GBR protection over coal expansion (Greenpeace)
- Website: 43 coal-fired power plants with combined capacity of 21,209MW are under planning in Japan (Kiko Network)
- Open letter: Letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – CAN responds to Japan’s draft INDC (CAN)
- Analysis: Peabody Coal’s AEfL fake Twitter followers (Followerwonk)
Images and video
- Video: Crunch time for Australian coal miners (ABC)
- Images: Coal Reclaimer (Kim Farnik), Coal plant Germany (Eutrophication), Big coal’s friends 1 (EndCoal), Big coal’s friends 2 (EndCoal)
- “The divestment movement may still be small but it is rallying young people, has moral authority, and can now make a prudential case as well as an environmental one.” Former UK climate change envoy John Ashton.
- “[A]s the coal industry fights for survival, it has begun to rely on novel and increasingly tenuous arguments. It has embarked on a global campaign to promote coal as the solution to energy poverty. This disingenuous claim is predicated on the notion that coal is the cheapest way of providing electricity to the one-fifth of the world’s population lacking access to an electricity grid. This exploitation of an urgent humanitarian need to promote more coal-burning in poor countries is extremely misleading. If ever implemented, it would actually significantly worsen the condition of the 1.3 billion people mired in energy poverty.” Former US Vice President Al Gore, and global investment manager David Blood.
- “The door is closing. I am very worried – if we don’t change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever.” Chief economist at the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol.
- “[W]hy are we digging coal anyway, when we cannot afford to burn it? Climate breakdown is the greatest unfunded liability of all, for which future generations will have to pay.” British Journalist George Monbiot.
Related Tree Alerts
- Coal company fakes social media campaign to pressure G20
- Chinese banks could be the “last straw” for doomed coal industry
- Decision time for Japan: clean and prosperous, or climate crook on road to decline?
- US and China reach “game changing” agreement on climate change
- Fighting the future will see Australia fail climate test, lose huge benefits of action
- Coal industry going bust as calls for climate action boom
- RT @ClimateReality: Coal is bad for our environment, health, and climate. There’s no such thing as clean coal http://bit.ly/1fsCrY1 #ScienceSunday
- RT @CindyBax: The @adani Qld #coal project “unbankable”- even its own finance expert admits wouldn’t invest #savethreef #climate http://t.co/fuTWIZ8jEM
- RT @TheAusInstitute: Queensland’s miners will need a miracle to profit from #coal now | John Quiggin http://gu.com/p/48vkv/stw #auspol
- RT @Renew_Economy: #Nuclear fans say humans can store radioactive waste, but not #solar energy. #Tesla just proved them wrong. https://shar.es/1pOjOc #storage
- RT @Starbuck: Check out @RAN’s new report card on the banks that finance dirty #coal projects.http://www.ran.org/coalreportcard #divest
- RT @cindybax: Dear @peabodyenergy @AdvancedEnergy: @elonmusk just provided answer to #energy poverty #climate #coal http://t.co/Gh5d8XK24u