Tag: coal

Most Germans Support Plans for More Climate Protection and Less Brown Coal

Berlin, 25 April 2015 – A large majority of Germany's citizens support Chancellor Merkel and Economics Minister Gabriel in their plans for strengthening climate policy. Seventy percent are of the opinion that the German government should implement additional measures to ensure a 40% reduction in emissions by the year 2020 – a current target of German energy policy. This is the finding of a new survey conducted by TNS Emnid on behalf of the association Campact and WWF Germany.

Seventy-three percent of the more than 1000 German citizens who participated in the survey support the so-called “climate levy,” a proposed measure that would tax the oldest and dirtiest brown-coal-fired power plants. Majority support for the government's plans is even seen in impacted regions such as the Rheinland (69% support) and Brandenburg (55% support). Support was visible across party affiliations, with 75% of all participants in favor of the policy measure. The survey also makes clear that young people in particular favor a sustainable and forward-looking climate and energy policy.

"A clear majority wants to see a reduction in the use of brown coal for electricity production. This sends a clear signal to the German government: Mr. Gabriel, Mrs. Merkel, take action now. Ensure Germany fulfills its climate protection goals!" says Chris Methmann, a member of the association Campact.

Germany can only achieve its climate protection targets when significant emissions cuts are implemented in the electricity sector. The electricity sector is responsible for approx. 40% of German greenhouse gas emissions, half of which are attributable to brown-coal-fired power plants.

As the renewable energy revolution will create on the whole considerably more jobs than the measure to reduce the use of brown coal will destroy,  71% of Germans consider the policy measure to be justified, according to the TNS Emnid survey. Ninety percent of electricity generation would receive an explicit exemption from the proposed "climate levy." Accordingly, the policy measure represents an extremely modest intervention into the electricity sector.

"The support of the populace for the planned measure is overwhelming. In the run up to the G-7 meeting this summer and the UN Climate Conference in the fall, it is of key importance not to fall victim to the fear mongering that a few energy companies are engaged in," says Regine Günther, WWF Director for Climate and Energy.


Note regarding the survey: 
Unless otherwise indicated, all data were provided by TNS Emnid. 1002 adults took part in the survey, which took place between 18 and 20 April 2015. The results were weighted and are representative of the German population (age 14+).

Press contact:
Sylvia Ratzlaff, Press Office, WWF Germany, sylvia.ratzlaff@wwf.de, Tel. 030 311 777 467

Jörg Haas, Spokesperson, Campact e.V., haas@campact.de, Tel. 0152 - 22888799 

France reaffirms its commitment to phase out coal financing abroad, but more to do to show climate leadership

Climate Action Network said today the reaffirmation by French President Francois Hollande that the country would stop funding coal plants overseas through export credits was to be welcomed as long as the ban starts now. 

With President Hollande to host the major UN climate negotiations in December this year at which a new, global agreement will be signed, it is heartening to see the government hinting at climate leadership. However, France can really show it means business by encouraging other countries in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to commit to the same standard as soon as possible.

As part of the ongoing transition away from dirty fossil fuels, its imperative governments and institutions stop funding new coal projects and instead shift their investments to projects that speed up the path to 100% renewable energy. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a major report last year that to keep the temperature rise within limits agreed by governments, the world had to reach a complete phase out of fossil fuel emissions. That means most of the world's known fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground. 

Climate negotiators will meet in Geneva on Sunday to continue negotiations on the global agreement. 



Greenpeace's Martin Kaiser on European climate action

We Must Phase Out Coal - Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace

Greenpeace's Martin Kaiser on what the EU 2030 climate action targets mean for the UN climate talks as it moves towards a comprehensive international agreement to limit climate change.

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ECO’s Climate Summit expectations

As the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit approaches, we are sure Parties, investors and businesses are wondering how to pack their bags and appropriately prepare for New York this September.

ECO would like to help. We know that Parties sometimes struggle with long lists of things they need to prepare. There is a regrettable tendency for some Parties to forget what they have already packed interventions in their bags already, or to wear old items of clothing in the hope that we don’t notice that it’s just the same old thing refashioned.

However, without any kind of a list to work from, ECO is concerned that Parties will arrive in New York completely not dressed appropriately for the occasion. Hot air and vague promises are not going to provide the cover needed at the summit. So here is what ECO recommends that Parties should pack for the Climate Summit:

1) New measures to scale up investment in, and deployment of, renewable energy and energy efficiency. This will to help fill the pre-2020 mitigation gap, but will also help you to pledge your support for a just transition to a fossil-free and 100% renewable future by 2050.

2) Then, if you are committed to a just transition, you will want to come to New York with substantial pledges for the Green Climate Fund and a commitment to increase the overall scale of climate finance.

3) And obviously, becoming fossil free means sending a strong signal that the age of coal is over. That means announcements from the US and China (inter alia) on domestic limits to coal use (going beyond current plans), the phase out of export credit and development bank finance for coal infrastructure from OECD countries, and coal divestment announcements by private sector actors.

If you arrive at the Summit with all of this in your suitcase, then you will be the talk of the town as all your clothing choices will make a climate fashion statement that the world will applaud about your determination to achieve a strong climate agreement in Paris and stop climate change.

Thanks in advance from ECO. We can’t wait!

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Well done Germany, what about coal?

ECO was delighted to hear that Germany has decided to stop export credit guarantees for nuclear installations abroad. Well done to our hosts – but here’s our first question: why did it take 13 years to draw the logical consequence from the 2001 decision to phase-out nuclear power? Only three years ago, the conservative-liberal government tried to mobilise another €1.3 billion export guarantee for Areva to build the Angra-3 nuclear reactor in Brazil. Only a strong refusal by Parliament and civil society stopped this crazy plan.

Today, Germany has become the country of the Energiewende, and wants to be seen as the front-runner in clean energy. Renewable energy is speeding up and it has already reached a 27% share of electricity. Renewable energy is seen as the backbone of Germany’s efforts to reach its national GHG reduction targets of 40% by 2020 and 55% by 2030.  Energy efficiency also needs a similar emphasis.

So, dear German government, if you have decided that renewables are the way to go, here is ECO’s second question: Why are you stopping export guarantees for nuclear, but still giving export credits to coal power plants all over the planet?

Between 2007 and 2013, developed countries collectively provided US$36 billion to coal through their national export credit agencies. With export credits worth nearly $3 billion, Germany places third in this dirty league table. The state-owned development bank KfW is the driver of such coal support.

The US, UK, Netherlands and several Nordic countries, as well as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank have decided to end or strictly limit their support for coal overseas. Meanwhile, KfW continues to give credits to coal power plants and infrastructure worldwide, to the tune of at least €2 billion. This means that high emission infrastructure is locked in for decades, undermining the goal to decarbonise energy supply as fast as possible.

In October 2013, the OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría asked “every government” to question domestic and overseas support for coal. The UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September in New York is the perfect moment for Germany and other developed countries to announce the end of their support for coal power plants and fossil fuel infrastructure. Germany should not wait another 13 years to draw conclusions that can help to save the planet.

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Tony Abbott’s plan: surreal and catastrophic

Australian Prime Minister Abbott's fossil fuel celebration tour got even more surreal yesterday when he donned a cowboy hat in Texas. Abbott also offered up his long term view on the prospects for coal — he believes that it will fuel human progress for many decades to come.  Meanwhile, here in Bonn, delegates were treated to a glimpse of what the world would look like if Abbott’s dystopia came to pass.

The topic was the melting of Antarctic ice sheets and the latest scientific findings that melting in massive areas of the polar region has recently passed a tipping point. Much of the Western Antarctic ice sheet is now melting and likely to contribute to devastating sea-level rise, a catastrophic consequence.

Abbott had better hold onto his hat tightly while riding the coal-power bull. He may be shouting “Yee-haw” in Texas at the moment but this crazy ride can only end with floods of tears. 

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Ontario Moves Beyond Coal

After being subjected to the taste of coal in the air and statements about the inevitability of continued coal use for almost two weeks, at last we have exciting news from the Canadian province of Ontario. The provincial government has just announced it will switch off its last active coal-fired power plant within weeks.

This will make Canada’s most populous province the first jurisdiction in the world to complete a coal phase-out. Just 10 years ago coal was 27% of the energy mix in Ontario’s power sector, with a total capacity of 7,500 MW. This week’s announcement is an example of how political will, spurred by public concern and combined with smart policies supporting energy efficiency and renewables, can help break coal addiction. As a result, smog, dust and mercury levels have already fallen substantially, and GHG emissions from the Ontario electricity sector were slashed by 75%, making this the largest carbon reduction project in North America.

Note that this feat was achieved despite a federal policy environment in Canada that is entirely hostile to climate action and has been moving the country in the opposite direction. Case in point: in the same period of the coal phase-out unfolded in Ontario, emissions from tar sands oil, a resource aggressively promoted by the federal Conservative government, soared by roughly the same amount that the Ontario coal phase-out saved. So in effect the additional emissions from tar sands exploitation have cancelled the gains from Ontario’s flagship climate action program.

Federally promoted tar sands growth is also the single biggest reason why Canada’s own estimated emissions growth is 20% above the target pledged in Copenhagen.

While it’s a good thing the new Canadian environment minister decided to attend the Warsaw COP, ECO wants to remind her that claiming to play a leadership role on climate is not the same as actually being a leader. Perhaps she should have a word with her Ontario counterpart. Here are some relevant ideas for real climate action: promoting renewables and energy efficiency, getting rid of fossil fuel subsidies, phasing out coal and reversing oil growth are all good.

At the same time we are celebrating the Ontario announcement as a clear sign that the end of the coal era is coming, there are also encouraging signs internationally.

Yesterday the UK announced they would build on the new US policy to end financing of coal-fired power plants abroad. As the energy and climate minister rightly pointed out, ‘It is completely illogical for countries like the UK and the US to be decarbonizing our own energy sectors while paying for coal-fired power plants to be built in other countries’. Now it’s time for Japan, Germany and other countries that continue to finance coal abroad to join this positive effort to phase out global fossil fuel subsidies.

Congrats, Ontario.

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Poland: Coal, Climate and Contradiction

There is not much worse you can do as the presidency of the COP than hosting and blessing what’s advertised as the ‘coal industry’s most important event of the year’.

Just three kilometres away from the venue where discussions on how to avoid the worst impacts of global warming are ongoing, coal lobbyists will be repeating the lie that saving the climate and burning coal can go hand in hand. All of this is applauded and supported by the Polish government, the very same one that invited climate negotiators to Warsaw.

While the government of Poland is fixated on protecting the coal industry against effective climate policies, an overwhelming majority of the citizens of Poland are in favour of climate protection and would like to see more investments in renewable energy instead of the massive state subsidies going to coal.

Finding itself isolated in the EU and accused of misusing the COP Presidency for promoting its own agenda, the Polish government has turned to one of its last true friends, the World Coal Association. To demonstrate their shared love for coal, these soul mates together developed together the agitprop of the decade: the 'Warsaw Communiqué'. This short screed advocates that you can tackle climate change with continued coal burning. It’s like claiming you can cure lung cancer while smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

But ECO reminds the Polish government that according to the International Energy Agency, two-thirds of proven fossil-fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we want to have any chance of staying below 2°C of warming.

Coal and Climate have only one thing in common -- both words start with C.

Continuing that Contradiction will lead to Climate Catastrophe unless the Coal stays in the ground. 

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Siekierki coal power station

The Siekierki coal power station is readily visible south of the National Stadium in Warsaw. First operational in 1961, it now generates 622 MW of electricity and provides district heat for a large part of the city. It is owned since 2012 by PGNiG, a large oil and natural gas company controlled by the Polish state. The station CO2 emissions are about 3.2 million tonnes/annum. Installing a proposed 'clean coal' power block would not reduce the impact in a major way.  Instead, the Siekierki plant represents the last generation of coal if we are to have a planet worth living on.  (Image: Wikipedia)

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Coal and Health

Only two days apart, Warsaw is playing host to two major conferences in parallel with COP19. You all know about the first one -- the International Coal and Climate Summit starting today.  The second was a climate and health summit over the weekend organised by the Global Climate and Health Alliance. Both are seeing involvement from medical students and health professionals, but in dramatically different capacities.  

The climate and health event dealt extensively with the health impacts of climate change. Keynote speaker Dr. Liz Hanna, president of the Australian Climate and Health Alliance, described the situation as 'grim, grim and more grim'. Expert speakers from the World Health Organization and a wide range of public health entities around the world spoke to the ways climate action and clean energy can benefit health.  The conference also dealt in depth with the negative effects of air pollution, including those of coal, the most polluting of all fossil fuels.

At the same time, there are determined members from the health community who are insisting that we hear the truth about the impacts of coal on parts of the body.  The 'People before Coal' protest outside the Coal Summit will cite recent research conducted by the Health and Environment Alliance highlighting that the health cost of coal in Poland alone amounts to over 8 billion Euros, and causes around 3000 premature deaths every year. 

Well, it seems that the Polish government, while hosting the Coal and Climate Summit, couldn’t quite make it to the climate and health summit.  Then, again, this is entirely consistent with the host country's actions during COP19 as a whole. But the people of Poland know better which side their interests are on. 

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