Coal Industry Must Face ‘Managed Decline’ If Countries Are Serious About Paris Agreement Climate Targets

Coal Industry Must Face ‘Managed Decline’ If Countries Are Serious About Paris Agreement Climate Targets
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There is no role for new coal power if countries are going to meet their climate targets, campaigners today told the international climate talks in Marrakech.

The Paris Agreement signed by world leaders last year commits countries to limiting warming to two degrees above pre-industrial levels. Negotiators are currently meeting in Marrakech to iron out the details of how they will achieve this.

Analysts have long warned that meeting climate targets will mean leaving many of the world’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

Even prior to Donald Trump’s election victory, campaigners were concerned that the transition away from fossil fuels was progressing too slowly. The threat of the US’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement adds a sense of urgency to campaigners’ calls.

So today, more than 375 civil society groups lead by 350.org and Oil Change International handed negotiators a letter demanding the immediate freeze of all new fossil fuel projects globally.

Speaking at the public handover staged within the conference centre, Oil Change International’s David Turnbull said:

After this week’s election in the United States, I realised there were many things I did not know about the world. But what I do know is this: We do not have four years to wait.”

Now more than ever, we need a massive global movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground”.

A new report by Climate Analytics, also released today, shows there are already more than twice as many coal power plants in the pipeline than can be permitted if policymakers are going to hit their climate targets.

The analysis suggests that if companies build all of the planned 1,082 new coal power plants, it could lock countries into high carbon energy systems for at least 40 years, blowing the global carbon budget.

Katherine Guttman from Climate Action Network Europe says in a press release that, “with the Paris Agreement in place, the days of burning fossil fuels in rich countries are numbered. The research findings demonstrate unequivocally that coal is the first fossil fuel that has to go.”

Oil Change International previously estimated that if countries keep to the Paris Agreement, around $600 billion of coal assets could become stranded.

So instead of waiting for that to happen, they are calling on companies and governments to plan now for a transition away from fossil fuels.

Greg Muttitt, Senior Advisor at Oil Change International, tells DeSmog UK:

“The major fossil fuel companies simply don’t have a plan about how to deal with climate change, so they’re doing what they’ve always done and seeking growth in a world in which there is no room for growth for their core business of fossil fuels.

“We’re calling for a managed decline that takes care of the many workers in the fossil fuel industry and the communities that are dependent on them. That call is being shared now by shareholders in those fossil fuel companies.

“The companies themselves, if they are going to continue to seek to expand the stock of fossil fuels, have no place in a climate constrained world.”

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Coal Industry Must Face ‘Managed Decline’ If Countries Are Serious About Paris Agreement Climate Targets
Mat is Special Projects and Investigations Editor of DeSmog, and Operations Director of DeSmog UK Ltd. He was DeSmog UK’s Editor from October 2017 to March 2021, having previously been an editor at Nature Climate Change and analyst at Carbon Brief.

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