August 20, 2015


Climate Vulnerable Philippines Plans Huge Bet on Coal

“The Philippines is planning a huge expansion of its coal power plant network, despite calls for the climate-vulnerable nation to help lead efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Global Coal Plant Tracker, 52 new coal power units are in the process of being constructed across the country, each with an estimated lifetime of 35 years,” writes Ed King in Responding to Climate Change.

Suggested Tweet: Climate vulnerable #Philippines plans huge bet on #coal @rtcc_edking

An Energy Sector Transformed Must Be an Energy Sector Reformed

“A systems dynamics diagram [of the energy system] … would show the fossil fuel industry gorging on subsidies and externalising substantial costs onto others, helping it to generate massive profits, of which it spends a meaningful proportion on lobbying, physical protection, community compensation and even – as history has repeatedly shown – downright bribery. These actions, in turn, help protect political access and entrenched economic advantage. This is as much a part of the old energy system as any pipeline or power station … The revolution afoot in energy, driven by new technologies and distributed generation, can and should mean a democratization of social as well as electrical power,” writes Michael Liebreich, the Chairman of the Advisory Board of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Suggested Tweet: An energy sector transformed must be an energy sector reformed @MLiebreich #fossilfuels #coal


Protest shuts down RWE mine in Germany

Over 1000 people occupied RWE’s Garzweiler lignite mine in Germany, shutting down operations for a day, with another protest shutting down a railway used to transport coal to nearby power stations. RWE’s lignite mines and coal power plants in the Rhineland are the biggest source of CO2 in Europe. Almost 800 were arrested by police on trespass and other charges. At the neighbouring Hambach mine three dozen activists have occupied the Hambach Forest which RWE proposes to clear to extend the Hambach mine. (Deutsche Welle, video)

Suggested Tweet: Protest shuts down RWE #coal mine in #Germany

top news

President of Pacific nation calls for new coal moratorium: In an open letter to global leaders the President of the Pacific nation of Kiribati, Anote Tong, has called “for a moratorium on new coal mines and coal mine expansions.” Kiribati’s 100,000 people live on islands and atolls which are on average just two metres above sea level and already affected by rising sea levels and storm damage. (President of the Republic of Kiribati, Reuters)

Vietnam discloses little about pollution from coal floods: Officials from the Vietnamese Government’s coal company Vinacomin have refused to discuss the environmental impacts from its collapsed coal tailings dams and flooded mines. The electricity utility EVN and provincial government officials also declined to respond to a request from Bloomberg to discuss the health impacts from existing power stations. The Vietnamese Government has announced that new coal plants won’t be permitted unless they have plans to handle coal ash. (Bloomberg)

Study estimates China pollution death toll at 1.6 million a year: A study on air pollution in China, using data from monitoring stations in China, Taiwan, South Korea and southern Japan, says about 38 per cent of the Chinese population are exposed to “unhealthy” levels of PM2.5 particle pollution. A further 45 per cent are estimated to be exposed to PM2.5 pollution considered to be “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” The study says 17 per cent of all deaths in China – about 1.6 million a year or 4000 per day – could be attributed to PM2.5 pollution. Coal burning is a major source of PM2.5 pollution, as well as nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide emissions. (New York Times, Berkeley Earth)
Islamic leaders back call for fossil fuel divestment: A declaration on climate change by Islamic scholars from 20 countries has backed calls for “divestment from the fossil fuel driven economy.” The declaration also urges “well-off” fossil fuel producing countries to note that to stay within the 2 degrees temperature goal or “preferably” the 1.5 degree limit “two-thirds of the earth’s proven fossil fuel reserves [must] remain in the ground.” (Islamic Declaration in Global Climate Change, Al Jazeera)

Australian Government likely to lose bid to gut law after Adani loss: After lobbying by coal industry lobby groups, the Australian Government has announced that it plans to amend federal environmental law to delete a section which allowed environmental groups to successfully challenge the approval of the proposed Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin. The proposed changes have been widely criticised. Initial indications are that the proposed change is likely to be rejected by the Senate. (ABC, Guardian)

Engie looks to offload Asian coal plants: French power utility Engie is reportedly looking to sell its 40 per cent stake in the 2045 megawatt (MW) Paiton coal plant in Indonesia and its 74 per cent stake in the Meenakshi Energy coal plant in India. In December 2013 Engie paid US$400 million for its stake in Meenakshi Energy, which has 300 MW commissioned and a further 700 MW under construction. Engie, a sponsor of the Paris climate talks and part-owned by the French Government, previously announced that it had dropped plans to build the Leczna coal plant in Poland and the Thabametsi coal plant in South Africa. (Bloomberg)

“There is no mine, no coal-fired power plant operating in this country [Vietnam] that’s taken into account climate change and the extreme weather it’s bringing … This is a time bomb and it’s already started to explode through this disaster [the July tailings dam collapse],”

said Koos Neefjes, a climate change policy adviser with the United Nations Development Program in Vietnam.


Australia: NSW Government gave coal industry secret role in drafting planning law.

India: Call for inquiry into failure of new 500 MW Anpara D power station.

New Zealand: Despite bailouts, government-owned Solid Energy placed in administration with US$211 million debt.
Philippines: Regulator lifts environmental order but Semirara mine remains closed after deadly landslide.

US: George Soros buys shares in Peabody Energy and Arch Coal.

“Everyone was looking at Asian growth and particularly the growth in China. I don't think anyone saw the dramatic change coming with respect to the slowdown in growth of the Chinese economy. … Everyone was doing forecasts that there was going to be huge demand for steel and iron ore and [metallurgical] coal and so forth. … We all thought India and China were going to continue to grow,”

said Bennett Hatfield, the former CEO of Patriot Coal.

companies + markets

Loans pledged for Pakistan’s Thar coal project: A consortium of Chinese and Pakistani banks have committed to loan US$500 million for Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company’s (SEMC) proposed Thar coal project. The first stage of the US$2 billion project involves the construction of a 3.8 million tonnes-a-year coal mine and a 660 MW power plant. A further 660 MW unit is proposed as a second stage of the project. The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority has approved a tariff to ensure a 20% rate of return on the project. SEMC is a joint venture between Sindh provincial government and five private companies. (Express Tribune, Express Tribune)

China set to idle vast amounts of coal plant: Slowing Chinese power consumption may result in between 96,000 and 170,000 MW of coal-fired plant capacity being idled this year, according to China Electric Power News. With an additional 23,000 MW of coal plants completed in the first half of 2015 – 55 per cent more than last year – China’s coal plant utilization rate has fallen by over seven per cent in the first half of the year. (China Coal Resource)

Mongolia backs northern coal railway concession: The Mongolian Government has approved its investment agency entering into a 30-year concession agreement with Northern Railways to build a 547 kilometre-long coal railway from Erdenet to Ovoot in northern Mongolia. Northern Railways is a subsidiary of Aspire Mining, an Australian company seeking to develop the 5 million tonnes-a-year Ovoot Coking Coal Project. However, to connect the proposed US$1.2 billion railway to the existing railhead at Kyzyl in Russia will require a further 180 kilometre-long extension, which is subject to a separate scoping study by Northern Railways. (International Railway Journal, Aspire Mining)
Documents reveal stealth strategy for San Francisco coal terminal plan: Documents obtained under Freedom of Information reveal that the proponents of a plan to export coal from a Bowie Resource Partners mine in Utah through a new terminal in Oakland were counting on keeping a low profile. Secret documents reveal that Jeffrey Holt from the Bank of Montreal was advising four Utah counties on its US$53 million investment in the proposed export terminal and organising finance for other counties for a proposed rail connection to the existing Union Pacific Railroad. (East Bay Express)

Kemper CCS project forces power prices up: Mississippi Power has won approval for an “emergency” 18 per cent power price rise to finance the US$6.2 billion Kemper Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) plant. Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, had argued the company would go bankrupt if the price increase wasn’t approved. However, the decision faces a legal challenge. In February the Mississippi Supreme Court rejected an application from Mississippi Power for a permanent 18 per cent price rise. (Bloomberg,

Goldman Sachs offloads Colombian mines: Goldman Sachs has sold Colombia Natural Resources (CNR), which operates two coal mines in Colombia, to the privately-owned US coal company Murray Energy. Goldman Sachs reportedly sold the company for just US$10 million and is estimated to have lost over US$200 million on CNR. The US-headquartered Murray Energy bought CNR to allow Colombia coal to be blended with its US coal for international sales. (Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg)


Human Rights Defenders in India's Coal Country, Amnesty International India, August 2015.

This 5-minute video, based on interviews with a range of human rights and social advocates, provides a good overview of the challenges facing communities confronted by coal projects in India.

Indonesia's reliance on coal power – in pictures, Guardian, August 18, 2015.

This gallery of Greenpeace photos illustrates the impacts of coal mining and power stations in Indonesia.
“Great met bet”, SNL, August 12-14, 2015. (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)

This detailed three-part series of articles explores the failure of the high-debt gamble that US coal companies took on the boom in the seaborne market for metallurgical coal.

“Islamic leaders join global call for a fossil fuel phase-out”, The Tree, August 18, 2015.

This bulletin has detailed background on the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, links to the most important resources on it and links to media coverage of it.

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