The Union of the Electricity Industry (EURELECTRIC), representing 3500 companies across Europe, released a statement on April 5, pledging that no new coal-fired plants will be built in the EU after 2020. “The European electricity sector believes that achieving the decarbonisation objectives agreed in the Paris Agreement is essential to guarantee the long-term sustainability of the global economy. EURELECTRIC’s members are committed to delivering a carbon neutral power supply in Europe by 2050, and to ensuring a competitively priced and reliable electricity supply throughout the integrated European energy market.” Poland and Greece remain outside the agreement, and apparently outside the mainstream.
The Guardian calls the EU position a “death knell for coal”, and in a separate piece, summarizes the decline of coal-fired electricity around the world. “Coal in ‘freefall’ as new power plants dive by two-thirds” (March 22) quotes a new report by Greenpeace , Sierra Club USA, and Coalswarm : Boom and Bust 2017: Tracking The Global Coal Plant Pipeline. Its findings show a 62 percent drop in new construction starts, and an 85 percent decline in new Chinese coal plant permits. A senior Greenpeace official states: “2016 marked a veritable turning point”. “China all but stopped new coal projects after astonishing clean energy growth has made new coal-fired power plants redundant, with all additional power needs covered from non-fossil sources since 2013. Closures of old coal plants drove major emission reductions especially in the U.S. and UK, while Belgium and Ontario became entirely coal-free and three G8 countries announced deadlines for coal phase-outs.”
Yet in Australia, environmentalists are waging an epic environmental battle against a giant, $16.5-billion coal mine adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, proposed by Indian energy conglomerate Adani. Government supporters, including the Prime Minister and politicians in Queensland, have argued that the mine would bring jobs and would not increase GHG emissions globally because Australian coal is cleaner than any other that India would be able to source from other countries; see an article in Climate Home for the rebuttal to that. Voices in opposition include Bob Brown, a former Green Party leader, who states : “This is the environmental issue of our times and, for one, the Great Barrier Reef is at stake. The Adani corporation’s dirty coalmine is an impending disaster with effects which will reach far beyond Australia.” Or read: “It’s either Adani or the Great Barrier Reef – are we willing to fight for a Wonder of the World?” in The Guardian. Thirteen community groups, claiming to represent 1.5 million Australians have joined the Stop Adani Alliance since its launch in March, and the Australian Conservation Foundation is behind another high-powered campaign . For context, see “The coal war: Inside the fight against Adani’s plans to build Australia’s biggest coal mine” from the Sydney Morning Herald. For a catalogue of “the ten most-absurd things about the Adani mine ” , see “Australia’s Climate bomb: the senselessness of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine” in The Conversation (April 12).
UPDATE: An April 24 analysis of the bleak prospects of the Carmichael Mine proposed by Adani for Australia “Adani: Remote Prospect: Carmichael Status Update 2017” .