March 5, 2015


Under the Dome Documentary Fires Debate Over China’s Air Pollution

“China is talking about its pollution crisis – all because of one moving film by a famous television journalist, and a little help from China’s state media apparatus …  The 103-minute film details Chai Jing’s year-long investigation into the root causes of China’s now infamous air pollution and touches on the way in which pollution has affected her own family,” writes Yiqin Fu in Foreign Policy.

Suggested Tweet: New Chinese air #pollution doco goes viral and generates huge debate about pollution and #coal

Germany Opens Giant New Coal Plant It No Longer Needs

“This weekend, the Moorburg coal plant [in Germany] will go into operation just outside of Hamburg – finally. Though it may be misunderstood abroad as a sign that the Energiewende [energy transition] apparently needs coal power to back up renewables, the real story is that renewables are making coal power redundant even during the nuclear phase-out. How else to explain that Vattenfall would have preferred to back away from the project altogether?” writes Craig Morris in Renewables International.

Suggested Tweet: #Germany opens giant new #coal plant it no longer needs writes Craig Morris @PPchef

Rio Tinto’s Restructuring Signals a Global Industry Step Away From Coal

“In announcing an abrupt restructuring and executive downsizing last week, the global mining giant Rio Tinto openly signalled its move away from coal-mining,” writes Tim Buckley from the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis.

Suggested Tweet: #RioTinto’s restructuring signals a global industry step away from #coal @ieefa_institute

US Coal-Industry Redux 2015: It’s Not Getting Any Easier for Alpha, Arch, Cloud Peak, or Peabody

“Nothing whatsoever has changed in the troubling tea leaves for the US coal industry lately, and our forecast into 2016 remains gloomy and getting gloomier,” writes Tom Sanzillo from the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis of the prospects for Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy and Peabody Energy.

Suggested Tweet: US #Coal-Industry Redux 2015: It’s Not Getting Any Easier for Alpha, Arch, Cloud Peak, or @Peabody  @ieefa_institute


Canadian coal company withdraws mine proposal

Opposition from the seafood industry, residents and municipal governments has forced Compliance Energy Corporation (CEC) to withdraw its proposal for the Raven coal mine on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. CEC planned to truck coal from the mine across the island from near Baynes Sound – a major shellfish producing area – to Port Alberni. The proposed mine was rejected by the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office in 2013 for failing to include important information in its proposed assessment. CEC proposed the project again in January. The mayor of Port Alberni, Mike Ruttan, said “there were zero changes the second time around.” (Globe and Mail, Wilderness Committee)

Suggested Tweet: Residents and seafood industry force withdrawal of Raven #coal mine in #Canada (again)

top news

Protest march over proposed Thai coal plant: Representatives of the Protect Krabi Network have called for the proposed Krabi coal plant to be scrapped ahead of a meeting of a government review panel to consider the proposed Klong Ruo Coal Seaport. The port is being promoted by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand to allow imported coal to be supplied to the proposed plant. (The Nation)

South African pollution decision could kill 19,000: Greenpeace estimates that about 19,000 premature deaths could be caused by the South African Environment Minister Edna Molewa’s decision to give Eskom and other companies an extra five years to meet air pollution standards. The Centre for Environmental Rights, Earthlife Africa and groundWork said the Minister had set no “enforceable conditions to ensure that Eskom comes into compliance in the next five years.” (Independent Online, groundWork)

Secret review of 16 more NSW mines: The New South Wales Office of the Environment and Heritage (OEH) has secretly undertaken a “strategic assessment” of the impacts of a further 16 coal mines covering 45,000 hectares in the Hunter Valley. The study is being funded by contributions of US$72,000 from each of the 11 participating coal companies and the New South Wales Minerals Council. A leaked OEH document revealed that the sponsoring companies will be given the right to review the assessment prior to it being presented to the state cabinet. (Sydney Morning Herald, Lock the Gate)
Head of Mongolian coal company jailed: Batsuuri Yaichil, the CEO of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi (ETT), a Mongolian government-owned coal company, has been arrested on charges of embezzlement and abuse of power. ETT is currently negotiating with Sumitomo, China Shenhua and Energy Resources over the development of a US$4 billion metallurgical coal project in the Tsankhi field. (Bloomberg)

Emails reveal Essar’s campaign to woo Indian officials: Internal Essar Group emails, included as part of a case lodged before the Supreme Court, reveal the company held 200 jobs for nominees of VIPs, including one person nominated by former Minister for Coal. The Essar Group has interests in Indian coal, power, steel, ports and other industry sectors. Essar also provided high-end mobile phones to politicians and small gifts to mid-level officials. One 2013 email detailed how Essar was provided with a draft Ministry of Power memo relating to the controversial Mahan coal mine. (Indian Express, Indian Express)

China plans industrial coal cuts: A Ministry of Industry and Information Technology official has flagged a 160 million tonnes a year cut in coal consumption by 2020 from the industrial sector, excluding power generators. Sectors such as steel, coal-to-chemicals plants and industrial boilers consumed a little under half of China’s domestic coal consumption in 2012. (China Daily)

“Chinese thermal coal peaking is like changing the direction on an escalator. It will be a shock for those who assumed the direction would always be up,”

said James Leaton, research director at Carbon Tracker Initiative.


India: Goa state government report reveals pollution associated with illegal coal barges.

Norway: City of Oslo divests from coal companies.

UK: Groups call on political parties to set deadline for unabated coal phase-out deadline.
US: Former Kemper CCS project manager resists Southern Company gag bid over settlement.

US: Groups want regulator to terminate Hydrogen Energy California CCS plant certification.

US: Former lab technician sentenced to 21-months in prison for faking coal water pollution test results.

“We expect the coal market to remain over-supplied in 2015. Despite production cutbacks in North America and Australia which will probably become more effective throughout the year, the decrease in volumes will continue to be offset by new supply coming from new expansion projects in Australia and Mozambique,”

Vale told investors in its 2014 financial results.

companies + markets

Poland wants EU approval for mine subsidies: The Polish government is seeking European Union (EU) approval for public funding to subsidise the ongoing operation of the government’s loss-making coal mines. Previously the EU has only approved subsidies to minimise the social and environmental costs associated with coal mines earmarked for closure. (Financial Times)

Mixed blessings for coal in India’s budget: The Government of India has announced plans to double the tax on domestic coal, an increase of US$1.62 per tonne to be paid into the National Clean Energy Fund, and increase the customs duty on imported metallurgical coal from 2.5 to 5 per cent. The Minister for Finance also announced plans for five new 4000 MW ‘ultra-mega’ coal plants as well as a 2022 renewable energy target of 100,000 MW of solar and 60,000 MW of wind capacity. However, funds for the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Ministry of Environment have been cut. (Government of India, The Hindu)
Production cuts rock Australian industry: A series of corporate announcements have revealed the depth of the crisis affecting the Australian coal industry. Glencore has announced that it plans to slash its Australian coal production by 15 million tonnes in 2015, a 15 per cent cut. The Brazilian company Vale has revealed that it had cut the valuation of its Australian coal assets by 71 per cent during 2014. Rio Tinto has also flagged a 3.3 million tonnes cut in thermal coal production in 2015. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Botswana’s Trans-Kalahari coal railway on hold: The Minister of Infrastructure Science and Technology, Nonofo Molefhi, has told Botswana’s parliament that the proposed 1447-kilometre Trans Kalahari Railway is on hold due to the lack of finance. The railway line was proposed to carry up to 100 million tonnes of coal per annum from the Mmamabula coalfields in Botswana to Walvis Bay Port in Namibia. (

“The Mae Moh tragedy [in Thailand] sends a clear message to the government: Raise environmental standards. Better still, stop the coal-fired power plants and other environmentally destructive schemes to protect the people and environment.  When the world is rocked by extreme weather resulting from climate change — and when renewable energy sources are aplenty — the use of coal should be out of the question. Death and ill-health cannot be compensated. The costly environmental clean-up often exceed economic benefits. And nature, once destroyed, cannot be healed,”

stated an editorial in the Bangkok Post.


Under the Dome, YouTube, March 2015. (Video)

This is the video on China’s air pollution crisis by investigative journalist Chai Jing which has gone viral. The video runs for 104 minutes. English subtitles have so far been included for about a third of the video.

Don't trust Adani with the Great Barrier Reef, Getup, March 2015. (YouTube)

This three-minute video tells the story of the impact of Adani on the residents near the company’s Mundra power station and port in India. Adani is proposing to build a new coal terminal near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Analysis: Public Finance from Rich Nations Driving Fossil Fuel Expansion, Oil Change International, March 2015.

This report provides an analysis of a leaked Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) document on the estimated US$8 billion a year in export credits for fossil fuels. OECD export credit agencies provided support to nearly one-quarter of new coal power plant capacity outside of China between 2005 and 2012.

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