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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Sydney and Melbourne join Powering Past Coal Alliance at COP24

The Powering Past Coal Alliance announced on Friday that Sydney and Melbourne had joined the Alliance at an event: Accelerating the global coal transition. This follows the Australian Capital Territory joining in September 2018. Other states and businesses that joined at COP24 included Israel, Scotland, Senegal, and Scottish Power.

The Alliance, formed in Bonn in 2017 at COP23, now includes 80 members including national governments, state or regional governments, cities, and businesses.

Canada's Environment Minister Catherine McKenna Made the announcement.

UK minister for energy and clean growth Claire Perry said: “We will be off coal by 2025. If the market doesn’t deliver, I will legislate to do so.”

Canada is also investing up to $275 million through the World Bank to further advance global efforts to phase out coal and to help developing countries, particularly in Asia, increase renewable energy alternatives.

“The fallacy of clean coal is the last-ditch attempt at protecting vested interests,” Marshall Islands environment minister David Paul said. “Coal-fired power is the most significant barrier between us and capping temperature rise at 1.5C. For survival, all must stop now.”

"The UK and Canada have truly led the world in powering past coal, with the UK going more than 1,700 hours without coal this year. But climate change is a global problem, which requires a united response. This World Bank fund, backed by £20 million from UK government will allow world-leading expertise to be shared globally to encourage developing countries to move away from coal power and embrace renewable energy, helping them to save the planet while giving their economies a vital boost." said Claire Perry, Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, United Kingdom

There was an explanation of the conversion of the Drax power plant in Yorkshire from coal to biomass pellets by Will Gardner from the Drax group. At least one voice was raised in the audience objecting to Drax use of forest pellets being hardly a sustainable story, and doesn't alter the amount of CO2 emissions. See this story from The Ecologist: No Drax! There's nothing 'sustainable' about big biomass

Mark Rawlinson, from United Steelworkers and member of the Canadian Federal Just Transition Taskforce on the panel explained the just transition stakeholder process that Canada has embarked upon involving communication and listening to workers and affected communities. "You need to embed just transition in all aspects of your climate action plan." he said.

Australia is currently the fourth largest coal producer in the world. The Liberal National Party federal government has fiercely defended the coal sector and Energy Minister Angus Taylor signalled on Wednesday that it would use taxpayer money to underwrite new coal plants.

Australia's environment Minister Melissa Price, who is leading the ministerial delegation at COP24, rejected the advice of the IPCC 1.5C special report recommendation on the rapid phase out of coal: "I just don't know how you could say by 2050 that you're not going to have technology that's going to enable good, clean technology when it comes to coal," she said. "That would be irresponsible of us to be able to commit to that."

Neither Melbourne or Sydney provided a specific end date for coal. Sydney has committed to a 100% renewable supply by 2035.

The City of Melbourne Council started a consortium with other Councils and city institutions in 2015 for a ground breaking power purchasing agreement - The Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP). This power has just started coming into the grid from the Crowlands wind farm. However many residential and business customers will continue to rely on electricity generated from brown coal in the La Trobe Valley for at least the next decade.

On Thursday 13 December, The Powering Past Coal Alliance held a Coal Free Day at the UK pavilion at COP24. The first session of the day discussed progress on the challenge of enabling a Just Transition away from coal, showcasing work from international institutions and think tanks, and reflecting on the UK and Canada experience.

The second session saw the Carbon Tracker launch new research on global coal economics, and bring together a range of voices critical to the conversation, including investors, policy makers, utilities and industry specialists.

Earlier this year, in October, South Chungcheong, a province home to half of SouthKorea’s coal power generation, joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance.

South Chungcheong province became the 75th member of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which was launched by Canada and the UK in November 2017. The province is the first jurisdiction in Asia to join, highlighting the growing global recognition of the importance of transitioning from coal to clean energy.

South Chungcheong province is home to the second and third largest coal fired plants in the world at Dangjin and Tae-an, each with a capacity of over 6 gigawatts (GW). As of January 2018, thirty units representing 18 GW were in operation in the province, which is twice the coal power generation capacity of Canada. South Chungcheong is the largest coal power user to join the Powering Past Coal Alliance since it was founded in 2017.

What will this do for projections of Australian thermal coal exports. The best thing the Australian government could do would be to start an export coal transition plan for workers and communities that will be affected when the export coal market starts declining. It is another reason we don't need the Adani mine, with high sulfur content medium quality coal to go on the market.


Climate Home News: Sydney and Melbourne vow to ditch coal power
Powering Past Coal Alliance website

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