Last week, a coalition of 27 countries and states led by the United Kingdom and Canada pledged to stop using coal-fired power plants and instead move to cleaner energy sources, like solar, wind and natural gas. The newly minted Powering Past Coal Alliance aims to expend to 50 or more countries by later 2018.
To join the coalition member countries must make commitments including setting coal power phase out targets and to end investments in coal-fired electricity both in their jurisdictions and abroad. Already, for instance, the United Kingdom which was one of the first nations to industrialize thanks to coal power has pledged to end its use of unabated coal power generation by 2025. Already this year, coal-power production has fallen to as little as 2 percent of the nation’s energy consumption, and the country celebrated its first full day without coal in 135 years. That’s a steep drawdown considering that in July 2012, 40 percent of its electric production came from coal power.
“The Powering Past Coal Alliance will signal to the world that the time of coal has passed,” Claire Perry, Minister for Climate Change and Industry. “The UK is committed to completely phasing out unabated coal-fire power generation no later than 2025 and we hope to inspire others to follow suit.”
The announcement was made at COP23, the recent United Nations climate change talks, where the alliance had its first meeting. At the meeting the alliance agreed that transitioning from coal-fired electricity is among the most important steps to meet the Paris agreement goals.
“Phasing out coal power is good news for the climate, for our health, and for our kids. Coal is literally choking our cities, with close to a million people dying every year from coal pollution,” said Catherine McKenna, Canada’s minister of Environment and Climate Change. “I’m thrilled to see so much global momentum for the transition to clean energy – and this is only the beginning.”
The announcement also was hailed by The Sierra Club. The organization observed that despite the Trump Administration’s push to resurrect coal, the US has already seen 50 percent of its coal-fired generation either announce retirement or retire.
Today’s announcement follows on the formation of the European Beyond Coal campaign at the beginning of November, and the United States reaching the milestone of 50 percent of its coal fleet either retiring or announcing retirement.
"By moving away from coal, the world will be well on its way to clean air, clean water, and climate stability,” said Sierra Club Global Climate Policy Director John Coequyt. “The governments who have joined this alliance just demonstrated how countries should be taking meaningful action on climate, and we applaud them for this critical step to move the world beyond coal.”
Alliance members at launch included: Alberta, Angola, Austria, Belgium, British Columbia, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Ontario, Oregon, Portugal, Quebec, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Vancouver, and Washington state.Tweet