‘End of coal in sight’ as more than 40 nations join new pact

The COP26 climate summit is taking goal on the coal sector, as greater than 40 nations pledged to stop coal in a brand new pact that may very well be one of many key legacies of the Glasgow gathering.

The settlement consists of 18 nations that for the primary time are promising to part out or cease investing in new coal-fired energy vegetation domestically and internationally, together with Poland, Vietnam and Chile.

COP president Alok Sharma has vowed to “consign coal to historical past,” because the world’s largest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions.

On the identical time, coal prices and profitability for producers are excessive owing to current shortages and rising demand for energy as the worldwide economic system rebounds following the pandemic.

About $20bn in funding to assist nations stop coal has been introduced on the Glasgow summit this week, together with a proposal to fund South Africa’s shift to clean energy. The Asian Improvement Financial institution launched a brand new fund that can purchase coal energy vegetation in an effort to shut them early.

“The tip of coal is in sight,” stated UK enterprise and vitality secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. “At present marks a milestone second in our world efforts to deal with local weather change as nations from all corners of the world unite in Glasgow to declare that coal has no half to play in our future energy era.”

The UK stated the brand new initiative would assist to close down 40GW of coal energy vegetation — sufficient to energy 30m properties — in 20 nations.

The newest dedication pertains to unabated coal energy, or these vegetation not geared up with carbon seize and sequestration know-how, nevertheless.

Slicing financing for brand new coal energy vegetation has been a key aim for the COP26 summit. A coalition of about 20 nations is anticipated to announce on Thursday an finish to any authorities funding for coal, each home and worldwide.

In accordance with the Worldwide Vitality Company, there are some 140GW of recent coal vegetation below building and greater than 400GW at numerous states of planning.

Whereas renewable vitality sources reminiscent of wind and photo voltaic are rising quickly, they’re struggling to maintain tempo with rising demand for electrical energy and energy, leaving fossil fuels to fill the hole.

Consequently, coal producers are having fun with probably the greatest years on document as the worldwide vitality crunch has pushed costs to unprecedented ranges. In Europe, coal costs, which began the yr at about $70, touched $300 a tonne in October earlier than retreating.

Coal prices have additionally leapt in China, the place a deepening power crisis is threatening its financial progress. The nation has struggled with home coal provide to fulfill the current elevated energy demand because it slowly runs down coal mines and energy vegetation for environmental and security causes.

Whereas the supply of funds and insurance coverage is a rising problem for the coal trade, some producers stay assured they will safe financing.

“The place the economics of a mission are compelling, we’ll discover funding,” stated July Ndlovu, chief govt of South African miner Thungela Assets.

“We’d not get funding from conventional sources like a financial institution. However there are sufficient examples in different commodities that you are able to do some actually inventive issues, like tie up with dealer and get funding for promoting your quantity.”

Nevertheless, many producers are already planning for a future the place demand for coal falls dramatically by diversifying into metals that might be wanted to affect transport and electrical energy era, reminiscent of copper, nickel and lithium.

The G20 nations agreed to finish public financing for worldwide “unabated” coal energy vegetation in Rome final weekend, however stopped wanting making any home commitments.

Analysis printed on Thursday reveals coal emissions have bounced again in 2021, rising an estimated 5.7 per cent above 2020 ranges, after the drop in emissions final yr due to the pandemic. That pushed whole world emissions from vitality in 2021 up 4.9 per cent in contrast with 2020.

India’s coal consumption grew 15 per cent this yr, whereas China’s rose 2.5 per cent, in keeping with analysis from the scientific journal Earth System Science Information.

“The rebound nearly takes us again to 2019 ranges,” stated Glen Peters, analysis director at Cicero, and one of many authors of the emissions research. “Except there’s a drop in coal use, we are going to most likely see emissions go up in 2022 and 2023.”

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