October 05, 2016
Issue #153  |  View Past Issues

Editor's Note

For the second time in recent months, anti-coal resistance by villagers in Jharkhand, India, ended in police shootings, with four deaths and scores of injuries near Hazaribagh. This follows the fatal shootings of two protesters elsewhere in Jharkhand in August. 

Meanwhile, an explosive report by Inclusive Development International has lifted the curtain on the hidden movement of funds to scores of coal projects through the World Bank’s private sector arm, despite the World Bank’s moratorium on coal funding. And a report by Greenpeace shows India on track to waste US$49 billion on unneeded coal plants.

—Christine Shearer and Ted Nace, guest editors


World Bank secretly funding coal explosion in Asia

At least 41 coal projects have received funding from banks and investment firms supported by the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private sector arm. This is despite the Bank announcing a moratorium on coal funding in 2013, says a new investigation by Inclusive Development International in collaboration with partner groups.  

Four killed at India coal mine protest

Four people are dead and as many as 40 injured after police opened fire on local villagers who had occupied an NTPC coal mining site at Chirudih village near Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. The incident follows the killing of two villagers elsewhere in Jharkhand in August at protests against the Gola power station. The state-run company violated forestry rights and is mining on important agricultural land, writes Ankush Vengurlekar at The Wire

As nations move to ratify Paris climate deal, it’s time to stop digging

The only means of reconciling governments’ internationally agreed upon climate change commitments with the opening of new coal mines, oilfields and fracking sites is carbon capture and storage (CCS). Yet there is only one form of CCS that is scientifically proven on a large scale and can be deployed immediately: leaving fossil fuels in the ground, writes George Monbiot in The Guardian.


Ilocos Norte declared first coal-free province in the Philippines

With the province already the country’s leader in wind power installations, a resolution approved by Governor Imee Marcos prohibits any official body within Ilocos Norte province from supporting new coal projects. (Manila Bulletin)

Brazil development bank to stop financing coal plants

Latin America's largest development bank, BNDES of Brazil, said it will no longer finance coal- or oil-fired power plants in a push to discourage carbon-intensive energy projects. Additionally, the bank decided to reduce credit to gas-fired power plants from 70 to 50 percent of total investment. For solar developments, it increased financing from 70 to 80 percent of project values. (Reuters)

Ratification by India and vote of approval by EU paves way for Paris Climate Accord

The United Nations Paris climate agreement ls poised to become law as it passes the crucial threshold of representing at least 55 countries and 55 percent of global emissions, after India’s ratification and a vote of approval from the European Parliament, allowing national ministers to ratify the agreement. Once in effect, the agreement will be binding for four years on all nations that ratified it. The U.N. is deciding how it will monitor and enforce the deal. (Washington Post, UNFCCC)

Top News

Solar power surpasses coal in cloudy Britain: According to an analysis by Carbon Brief, solar panels are generating more electricity than coal in Britain: 7000 gigawatt hours (GWh) for solar versus 6300 GWh for coal between April and September 2016. The Government has said it plans to end all unabated coal generation in the UK by 2025. (Telegraph, Independent

Draft environmental impact statement released on proposed coal terminal in Washington: The US Army Corps released a draft EIS on the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal, which could handle up to 44 million tonnes of coal annually. Environmentalists say that, despite the long distances trains would travel to bring the coal, the Corps limited its study of transportation impacts to the terminal site and a small two-mile corridor, and also did not take into account greenhouse gas emissions from the coal exports being burned. (Seattle Pi)

Germany’s Steag GmbH to shut five coal plants: As the profitability of Germany’s coal plants drops by 57 percent in the past 12 months, Steag GmbH is considering shuttering five of its 13 coal-fired power plants ahead of schedule, according to a company spokesperson. (Yahoo News)

Hearing begins on US policy to limit power plant carbon emissions: The Clean Power Plan, intended to curb carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation in the US, is being challenged by 27 mostly Republican-controlled states, who claim the Plan exceeds federal powers and violates states’ rights. The case is being heard by 10 judges at the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A ruling is expected late this year or early next and could go before the Supreme Court. (CNN)

"Where everyone is calling bloody murder in a bad coal market, we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,"

said coal mine owner and reality TV producer Quinton van der Burgh about joining with Vitol SA to buy a 7.6% stake in South Africa’s Richards Bay Coal Terminal.

China cracks down on illegal coal and steel operations: Following a nationwide safety and pollution inspection of more than 4600 coal mines and 1000 steel makers, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) revoked safety certificates for 28 coal mines and forced another 286 coal mines to halt production. The NDRC also forced two steel companies to shut completely, 29 firms to halt production and another 23 to curb output. (Reuters)


Nigeria: Dangote Group converts its cement plants to run on coal, citing gas shortages.

South Africa: Centaur Holdings to build new coal mine in Mpumalanga province.

US: Groundbreaking ceremony planned for Mount Tom solar farm in Massachusetts, which is replacing a coal plant closed in 2014. 

US: A state environmental review board approves Wyoming’s first major coal mine in decades.

India: Coal India’s output dropped for a second consecutive month in September, declining 5.2 percent from a year earlier.

Mozambique: Vale revives deal first signed in 2014 with Mitsui of Japan for a Mozambican coal mine and infrastructure project.

Companies + Markets

Closure of coal plants in Texas will not lead to shortages, may lower prices: A CreditSights Inc. analysis finds electricity supply in Texas will not be negatively affected by the planned closure of 6000 megawatts (MW) of coal plants in the state, as wind power in particular will more than make up the shortfall. The group also found the state’s planned 11,000 MW of wind power by 2018 may also bring downward pressure on electricity prices. (Bloomberg) 

US investigates Standard Chartered’s role in Indonesian power bribery allegations: The US Justice Department is investigating Standard Chartered Bank over allegations that its Indonesian power company Maxpower Group, controlled by the bank, paid bribes to win power contracts. Prosecutors are looking into whether Standard Chartered knew about or approved bribes, and if the bank’s controls around its investment in Maxpower were adequate. The investigation comes after an internal audit at Maxpower found evidence of possible bribery and other misconduct. (WSJ [Paywall])

Duke to move entirely away from coal: Duke Energy’s Chief Executive Officer Lynn Good said the company is planning to remove coal from its energy mix, although the shift will not be completed entirely until 2040 or 2050. Good said Duke’s US$4.9 billion purchase of Piedmont Natural Gas, set to close this week, will accelerate the company’s move away from coal. Duke supplies power to 7.4 million people in the U.S. (Bloomberg)

Coal seam gas wells render property unacceptable for loan: A letter from the Commonwealth Bank, obtained by Guardian Australia, shows the presence of four coal seam gas wells on a 240-hectare property was the sole reason given for refusing the owners’ application for a loan to buy a new home. Queensland Gas Company (QGC), which owns the wells, has insisted that no properties hosting its infrastructure have had their home values negatively affected. The owners then asked QGC if it would buy the property, but the company refused. (The Guardian)

Two Elk coal plant developer charged with criminal fraud: Federal prosecutors have charged North American Power Group president Michael J. Ruffatto with criminal fraud for bills he submitted under a 2009-2010 federal stimulus grant to research carbon storage at the once-proposed Two Elk Coal Plant in Wyoming. The plant was never built and the permits for it have expired. In February 2015 the Department of Energy ordered Ruffatto to pay back US$5.7 million of the US$7.8 million his company received from the stimulus program because of  “serious mismanagement or misuse of funds.” (WyoFile)


Disaster for Us and the Planet: How the IFC Is Quietly Funding a Coal Boom,” Inclusive Development International with urgewald, Bank Information Center, 11.11.11, and Accountability Counsel, October 2016

This report explores the highly opaque channels through which support from the International Finance Corporation, a World Bank Group member, flowed through intermediary banks and funds to at least 41 new coal projects since the World Bank announced its moratorium on coal funding in 2013.

India sinking over Rs 3 lac crores/$49 billion to build idle coal plants; even more in the pipeline,” Greenpeace, October 2016 (PDF)

Based on research by Greenpeace and the Global Coal Plant Tracker, this report describes how excess building of coal plants in India, unless stemmed, will result in US$49 billion in waste.

Meet America's super polluters,” Center for Public Integrity, September 29, 2016

This article and documentary look at “super polluters”: facilities most responsible for toxins and emissions. Pollution is highly concentrated in the US, with a third of the toxic air releases in 2014 coming from just 100 of the more than 20,000 power plants and industrial facilities reporting to the US Environmental Protection Agency. A third of the greenhouse gas emissions reported by industrial sites came from just 100 facilities as well.