There has been a 76 per cent reduction in proposed coal power pipelines since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. After assessing the global pipeline of new coal projects, a new report has said the decline indicates the end of new coal construction, which is welcome news for tackling climate change.
The report by climate change think tank E3G comes ahead of the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy in November where countries will advance their individual and collective commitments to “no new coal projects” and also asking richer countries to provide support to countries in pivoting towards a coal-free future.
Coal is the single largest contributor to climate change. According to a recent UN report (IPCC), the use of coal needs to fall 79 per cent by 2030 on 2019 levels to meet the pledges countries signed up to in the Paris Agreement.
China alone accounts for 55 per cent of the global total, followed by India — which is home to 7 per cent (21GW) of the global pipeline — Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey, and Bangladesh. The report pointed out that action by these six countries could remove 82 per cent of the remaining global pipeline.
This leaves 44 countries without a pre-construction pipeline, and in a position to commit to “no new coal”, joining 40 countries that have made this commitment since 2015. Together, they can respond to Guterres’ call for “no new coal by 2021”.
The remaining pipeline is thinly spread across 31 countries, 16 of which are only one project away from embracing a future without coal.
These countries could follow global momentum and regional peers in ending their pursuit of new coal-fired power generation.
If China follows East Asian neighbours Japan and South Korea in ending overseas coal finance, it would facilitate the cancellation of over 40GW of pipeline projects across 20 countries, said the report.
The upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this November, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, earmarked by COP President-designate Alok Sharma as “the COP that consigns coal to history”, will be a key moment for demonstrating momentum away from new coal, and for richer countries to provide support to countries in pivoting towards a coal-free future.
The report’s author Chris Littlecott, Associate Director at E3G, said, “The collapse of the global coal pipeline and the rise of commitments to ‘no new coal’ are progressing hand in hand. Ahead of COP26, governments can collectively confirm their intention to move from coal to clean energy.
“The economics of coal have become increasingly uncompetitive in comparison to renewable energy, while the risk of stranded assets has increased. Governments can now act with confidence to commit to ‘no new coal’.”
Averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5 degrees celsius of warming, according to the latest report by IPCC, a United Nations body. At the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world had agreed to limit the global temperature rise in this century to well below two degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees celsius.