November 26, 2015
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editor's note

As the Paris climate talks near, the focus on coal as a climate change culprit is greater than ever before. Governments and banks are increasingly responding to growing public and political pressure: this week Austria and Alberta have announced they will dump coal power, while 20 banks have now signed the Paris Pledge to quit coal. In the days left before the Paris talks the expectation grows that more will follow their lead.

Bob Burton
CoalWire Editor


Clearing up the confusion over China and coal

Despite a deluge of conflicting claims in the media about what is or isn’t happening with coal in China, the statistics tell a clear story of coal’s decline, writes Lauri Myllyvirta from Greenpeace International.
Tweet: Clearing up the confusion over #China and #coal  @laurimyllyvirta  @energydesk

Fact-checking the claim that Australian coal is 'clean'

The claim promoted by the coal industry and its supporters that Australian coal is cleaner than that supplied by its competitors doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, writes Tim Buckley from the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis.

Tweet: The claim that Australian #coal is clean doesn’t stand up to scrutiny @ieefa_institute

We need to talk about coal

Hyping the construction of ‘high efficiency’ coal plants as a solution to climate change is about as logical as a drunk trying to sober up by drinking light beer, writes Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute.

Tweet:  Building 'high efficiency' #coal power stations can no more reduce emissions than drinking light beer sobers you up


South African company backtracks on mine near wildlife reserve

A campaign by residents and environmentalists against a proposed mine next to Imfolozi game reserve, South Africa’s oldest wildlife reserve, has forced Ibutho Coal to suspend the environmental assessment process while it reconsiders its options. During the public consultation it was revealed that several hundred people from Ocilwane and Ntuthunga villages would be forced to move. The company’s decision has been welcomed as “a significant victory” by Kirsten Youens, an environmental attorney for the Global Environmental Trust. “It means there will be a long delay,” she said. (IOL)

Suggested Tweet: Community campaign forces #coal co. to retreat over mine near #Imfolozi #SouthAfrica

Alberta announces phase-out of over 6000 megawatts of coal

The new provincial government of Alberta has announced coal-fired generation will be phased out by 2030 with two-thirds of the shuttered capacity replaced by renewables and wind in particular. The policy will have a knock-on effect on Canada’s national policy as Alberta currently generates more electricity from coal than all the other provinces combined. Just over half of the province’s current electricity is generated from 18 coal units which have an installed capacity of 6258 megawatts (MW). The policy will cut demand for coal by about 30 million tonnes a year, representing approximately 90 per cent of the province’s production. (Government of Alberta, Pembina Institute)

top news

Peruvian farmer sues German utility RWE: A Peruvian farmer, Saul Luciano Lliuya, has filed a lawsuit against the energy utility RWE over the risks posed to his family, property and the city of Huaraz from the company's greenhouse gas emissions. Lliuya argues that the company’s greenhouse gas emissions are partly responsible for causing glacial melting which has resulted in a significant increase in the size of a lake above Huaraz and increased the risk of a major flood wave hitting the city of 120,000 people. Lliuya argues RWE should pay part of the costs of safety measures at the lake since it has emitted 0.5 per cent of the human-induced greenhouse gas emissions since the Industrial Revolution. (AFP, Germanwatch)

Study of coal trains reveals dust plume: A two-month-long study in 2014 of freight trains passing through the Columbia River Gorge in Washington State found “diesel powered open-top coal trains result in nearly twice as much respirable PM2.5 compared to the passage of diesel-powered freight trains.” The study, which has been published in Atmospheric Pollution Research, noted that video footage revealed “large plumes of coal dust” from four of the uncovered 74 coal trains included in the study. (Portland Tribune, Atmospheric Pollution Research)

Australian court upholds elderly farmer’s right to block mine: The New South Wales Court of Appeal has upheld the right of 82 year-old farmer Wendy Bowman to refuse to sell her property to Yancoal for the expansion of the Ashton south east mine in the Hunter Valley. Yancoal had appealed against a 2014 NSW Land and Environment Court decision to approve the mine but on condition that it could only proceed if the company reached an agreement with Mrs Bowman on the use of her land. (Singleton Argus, ABC)
OECD warns Indonesia to back away from fossil fuels: In the aftermath of the OECD countries agreeing on new restrictions on financing coal plants, the deputy secretary-general of the OECD, Rintaro Tamaki, has warned Indonesia against promoting the use of fossil fuels. Indonesia, he said, would be one of the countries hardest hit by climate change. “We have to create a society where fossil fuel is not utilised,” he said through a translator. (Jakarta Globe)

Death toll to mount if Thailand pursues coal: Coal plants in Thailand cause an estimated 1550 premature deaths per year according to research by Harvard University and Greenpeace Southeast Asia. They estimate the number of premature deaths could climb to 5300 a year if the coal-fired projects which have been announced are built. In the Power Development Plan 2015 the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand and the Energy Ministry propose an additional 7400 MW of coal power plants be built by 2036. (The Nation, Greenpeace Southeast Asia)

Japan ponders new coal assessment: Japan’s Minister for the Environment is considering removing the current exemption from environmental assessment for proposed coal plants of less than 112.5 MW capacity. The review follows revelations from environmental group Kiko Network earlier this year that about a third of the proposed 45 coal-fired units were exempt from environmental assessment. The European Union’s Climate Commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete, has also warned Japan against supporting new coal plants overseas as this “could lock countries into unsustainable technology.” (Bloomberg, Japan Times)

“I challenge any of these leaders [promoting coal] to say 'Yes we know what is going to happen to Kiribati, but it doesn't matter. We don't care, because otherwise we would lose the next election'. They use the excuse of the poor. But we are the poor and we are speaking on our own behalf and we will be affected,”

said President of the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, Anote Tong.


Austria: Shutdown of remaining 792 MW of coal plants to be complete by 2025 at latest.

Australia: NSW Government abandons Cobbora coal mine plan; opts to sell land for farms.

India: Madras High Court stays Tamil Nadu order directing Greenpeace India to disband.
Finland: Helsinki City Council votes to close the 41-year-old 445 MW Hanasaari plant in 2024.

Kenya: Community leader wants Fenxi Mining’s Mui coal contract cancelled over broken promises.

Netherlands: Sixty-four professors call on government to shut all 11 coal plants.

companies + markets

Teck drops Canadian mine expansion plan: In the face of falling metallurgical coal prices Teck Resources has cancelled its plan to expand the Coal Mountain Operations mine in British Columbia and has withdrawn the project from the environmental assessment process. The expansion would have produced an extra 2.25 million tonnes per annum. Teck, the world’s second largest metallurgical seaborne coal exporter, announced it will cut 1000 jobs from its workforce in 2016 and cut or defer US$264 million in capital works. Teck Resources owns and operates six mines in Canada, five of which are in British Columbia. (Teck Resources)

Glencore most carbon-exposed coal company: A new report by CDP – formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project – ranked Glencore as the worst coal company ‘across the board’ and a “clear laggard on carbon regulation readiness.” The rankings were based on assessments of energy efficiency, water resilience, coal exposure, carbon-cost exposure and carbon-regulation readiness. (Bloomberg, CDP)
German insurer retreats from coal: In the next six months, the German insurer Allianz says it will withdraw its investments in mining companies and utilities which generate over 30 per cent of their sales or electricity from coal. The company has signalled that it intends to double its investment in wind energy to about US$4.25 billion in the next few years. (Reuters, Urgewald)

SaskPower unveils renewables target: Stung by the ongoing controversy over the failings of the Boundary Dam Carbon Capture and Storage plant, the publicly-owned utility SaskPower has unveiled a renewables target of 50 per cent by 2030. The target would represent a doubling of renewables capacity with wind power likely to be the largest contributor. While SaskPower states it will “continue to explore” CCS for the other two aging units at the Boundary Dam Power station, wind power will be far cheaper. (SaskPower, SaskWind)



The $2 trillion stranded assets danger zone: How fossil fuel firms risk destroying investor returns, Carbon Tracker Initiative, November 2015.
This report argues that with a major oversupply in thermal coal proposed capital expenditure of US$177 billion on new projects and US$42 billion on existing ones is unneeded.

Fueling the Fire: The corporate sponsors bankrolling COP21, Corporate Accountability International, November 2015. (Pdf)

This report documents the history of four major sponsors of the Paris climate conference – Engie (formerly GDF Suez), Suez Environnement, BNP Paribas and Électricité de France – and their efforts to derail effective action on climate change.

Digging Deeper: The Human Rights Impacts of Coal in the Global South, Dejusticia and Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, November 2015. (Pdf) (Also a 17-minute video Promises of Lavender.)

This report and video documents the human rights impacts of coal in India, South
Africa, Colombia and Egypt.

Coal Atlas 2015,Coal Atlas 2015 Heinrich Böll Foundation and Friends of the Earth International, November 2015.

The Coal Atlas is now available in English and comes with a big array of supporting infographics. This is an invaluable resource.

take action

Vote for your favourite climate Pinocchio

Friends of the Earth France has launched the Pinocchio Climate Awards 2015. It’s your chance to vote for one of BNP Paribas, Chevron, Total, Yara, Shell, Engie, Avril, Anglo American or Edf.

Tweet: Have you voted? The #Pinocchio 2015 #Climate Awards #COP21 edition via @amisdelaterre

21 reasons why banks must quit coal before the Paris climate talks begin

While 20 banks have now signed up to take the Paris Pledge to quit coal, in a light-hearted way Banktrack sets out the 21 reasons why other banks should join the push before the Paris climate negotiations begin.

Tweet: Banks need to pledge to #QuitCoal before the Paris climate summit. Support the call!

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