March 26, 2015


Shenhua’s Bombshell Numbers Show China’s Coal Appetite Has Peaked

“When the largest coal producer in China puts out the kind of numbers China Shenhua Energy Co. just reported, it’s an unmistakable signal that the most populous country on the planet is continuing to step back from coal … It sees a 10 percent drop in its domestic coal sales in 2015 (that’s a 47 million-tonne reduction to 404 million tonnes) … The company has a 15 percent share of the Chinese coal market, so it’s a key barometer of the larger picture, and its cutbacks send a clear signal that China is intent on curbing its emissions by a rapid diversification away from coal,” writes Tim Buckley from the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis.

Suggested Tweet: Shenhua’s bombshell numbers show #China’s #coal appetite has peaked

Will the US Supreme Court Let EPA Clean the Air?

“On Wednesday, March 25, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Michigan et al. v. EPA et al., in which a handful of States, together with the National Mining Association and some industry representatives, challenge mercury and air toxics standards issued by the Environmental Protection Agency … Whatever the Court decides, reality has passed its verdict: Big Coal’s claims of economically disastrous, job-killing EPA regulations have no basis in fact ,” writes Sanjay Narayan from the Sierra Club.

Suggested Tweet: Will the US Supreme Court Let EPA Clean the Air? #coal #pollution #climate


Aboriginal group announces opposition to Adani mine

Representatives of the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners have announced their opposition to Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland. In October 2014 the Wangan and Jagalingou rejected a land use agreement proposed by the Indian mining company for the massive mine. Adani is now seeking the approval of the Native Title Tribunal to overturn the group’s rejection of the agreement, which would allow the Queensland Government to approve the lease for the mine. “The mine will destroy the natural environment, it will damage our laws and customs beyond repair and further dispossess our people,” said Wangan and Jagalingou elder Adrian Burragubba. (Guardian)

Suggested Tweet: Aboriginal group fights to stop $16bn Carmichael #coal mine, Australia’s largest  #Adani

Proposed coal plant on Mauritius defeated

After a nine-year campaign residents are celebrating the defeat of a proposed 110 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station on Mauritius, an island nation which is almost 2000 kilometres off the south-east coast of the African continent. In mid-February the recently-elected government announced that it would consider “other feasible options” to the proposed plant. Fabiani Balisson, the President of the Plateforme Citoyenne, thanked the Prime Minister for “safeguarding our priceless natural heritage.” (Endcoal)    

Suggested Tweet: Proposed #coal plant for Mauritius defeated – congratulations to Plateforme Citoyenne

Proposed Croatian coal plant withdrawn

A proposal for an 800 MW coal plant at Ploce in Croatia has been withdrawn after 90 per cent of voters opposed the project in a late-January referendum. Rallies against the project attracted thousands of people and the local council opposed the project. While the referendum was not binding on the government, the company withdrew its proposal shortly afterwards. (CoalSwarm,

Suggested Tweet: Proposed #coal plant for Mauritius defeated – congratulations to Plateforme Citoyenne

Indian groups celebrate win over Mahan coal mine

The indigenous communities of a forest in central India have reason to celebrate this spring. No more will they have to live with the fear of being booted out of their land that faced the threat of being swallowed by a giant coal mine. The tribal residents of Mahan forest in Madhya Pradesh can now look forward to gathering mahua fruits falling off trees and selling them to make a living,” writes Avik Roy in Responding to Climate Change.

Suggested Tweet: Indigenous groups celebrate #Mahan #coal mine victory in #India @avikroy5

top news

UK’s second largest coal plant to shut in 2016: The 2400 MW Longannet power station in Scotland is set to close in March 2016 after it failed to win a tender for a US$22 million contract to ensure the plant was available when required. The plant, which was built in 1973, was ranked last year as the 21st dirtiest coal plant in Europe. A knock-on effect of the closure will be that the proposed open-cut coal mine at Cauldhall near Edinburgh will be without a market. (Guardian)

Companies don’t dispute global warming in corporate filings: In its December 2014 comments on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan Peabody Energy proclaimed the climate science underpinning the proposal was “fatally flawed.”  However, a review of US coal companies’ corporate filings has found that companies such as Peabody Energy and Alpha Natural Resources – which publicly dispute climate science - are far more circumspect in their filings to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. (EE News)

Germany plans limits on most-polluting coal plants: The German Government is considering the introduction of a threshold pollution limit of 7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per gigawatt of capacity, beyond which generators would be fined US$20-22 per tonne of carbon dioxide. The new standards will be included in a bill later this year with the aim of coming into effect in 2017. The government is aiming to cut coal plant emissions by 22 million tonnes by 2020, which would require the closure of as many as eight coal plants. By introducing a fine, the government hopes utilities such as RWE and Vattenfall will be forced to reduce production at their oldest and dirtiest coal plants. (Reuters)
Court to consider probe into Essar scandal:  The Supreme Court of India has requested submissions from the Government of India, the Central Bureau of Investigation and Essar Energy on an application from a public interest lawyer seeking a court-appointed probe into revelations in leaked emails that Essar Energy made gifts to public officials, ministers and journalists. (Daily Mail)

Community maintains opposition to Indonesian power project: Japanese and Indonesian groups have urged Indonesian President Joko Widodo to scrap plans for the 2000 MW Central Java power project at Batang despite Widodo’s claim that construction could commence within weeks. The project has been stalled since 2012 due to the refusal of farmers to sell their land. President Widodo claims that these issues have been resolved, despite the continued staunch opposition of local communities. (Jakarta Globe, Bloomberg)

Congress and White House standoff over ExIm coal lending: A bipartisan Congressional bill seeks to overturn the current restrictions on the US Export-Import Bank lending to coal-fired power stations in all but a limited set of circumstances. The mandate for the ExIm Bank expires on June 30.  White House spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman said President Obama remained “fully committed” to the current restrictions and opposed “language that would hinder implementation of the president's Climate Action Plan.” (The Hill, Reuters)

“The impact of such efforts [fossil fuel divestment campaigns] may adversely affect the demand for and price of securities issued by us, and impact our access to the capital and financial markets,”

wrote Peabody Energy in its 2014 annual filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.


China: To cut pollution, the third of Beijing’s four coal plants is shut.

India:  Government floats plan for 10 coal-to-urea plants in coal-rich states.

Tanzania: Government flags mid-year call for tender bids on 600 MW Ngaka Coal plant.
UK: Major fire in Hunterston coal handling terminal.

US: Ex-Murray Energy foreman claims she was sacked for refusing to make political donations.

US: Freedom Industries pleads guilty to three charges for causing 2014 Elk River pollution disaster.

“Forecasts of the deployment of renewables have consistently been broken as costs fall faster than expected. Likewise, coal markets in both the USA and in China have been contracting faster than expected, severely impacting share valuations. This materiality will accentuate in the years ahead as investors recognise that unabated coal has no place in the future energy mix, and the social and environmental impact of the other fossil fuels is increasingly regulated, and priced, nationally and internationally,”

wrote Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations  Climate Change Secretariat, in a letter urging her former university, Swathmore College, to divest its fossil fuel investments.

companies + markets

Eskom seeks 25% price hike: Eskom has provoked further controversy over its financial management by seeking to change its proposed 12.65 per cent power price increase from July 1 to 25.3 per cent. Eskom argues the increase is needed to cover increased costs including from delays in commissioning the Medupi and Kusile coal power stations and diesel fuel for gas-fired power stations. (BDLive, SpyGhana)

Colombian mine expansion put on hold: The Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia – which is operated by a joint venture between BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Glencore – is losing money on about 11 per cent of its production. With the 30 per cent fall in European coal prices over the last year, the joint venture is delaying investments in further expansion. The joint venture expects to export about 34 million tonnes in 2015, well under its 40 million tonnes per annum capacity. (Bloomberg, BHP Billiton)

Worse in store for met coal: Metallurgical coal prices are likely to fall further, due to plummeting Chinese imports and increasing supplies from Australia. US coal producers, which responded to slowing domestic steel demand by diverting lower grade coal to the thermal coal market, are now being hit by falling domestic thermal coal demand.  “We haven't hit the bottom yet,” said Jack Porco, president and chief commercial officer of Xcoal Energy & Resources. (SNL)
Japan benchmark thermal coal price tipped to fall: The largest thermal coal exporter, Glencore, is tipped to agree to a 2015-16 benchmark price with Japanese buyers for a six-year low of about US$70 per tonne. The annual Australia-Japan contract price, which includes a premium above the spot market price, becomes the reference point for other contracts in the Asian market. Glencore’s  2014-15 contract price was US$81.80 a tonne.  Coal traders are expecting Japanese buyers to reduce the volumes covered under this year’s contract and buy more coal on the spot market. (Bloomberg,

Subsidy bid for US coal port rejected, again: For the second time in three months the Oregon Transportation Commission has rejected a request from the Port of St Helens for US$2 million to rebuild a dock to facilitate coal exports. The project was intended to assist Ambre Energy with its plans to export 8 million tonnes of coal through Oregon. (The Oregonian)


“The coal sector is in a depression right now,”

said Spencer Cutter, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.


The US Coal Crash – Evidence for Structural Change, Carbon Tracker Initiative, March 2015. (Pdf)

This report reviews the factors behind the fall and fall of US coal companies, their resistance to acknowledging structural changes in their markets, the growing risk of stranded assets and the parallels with the global fossil fuel markets.

Cutting Greenhouse Gas from Fossil-Fuel Extraction on Federal Lands and Waters, Center for American Progress and The Wilderness Society, March 19, 2015. (Pdf)

The brief report provides a detailed breakdown on greenhouse gas emissions from coal, oil and gas leases on federal government land, which now account for one-fifth of all US greenhouse gas emissions.
Australia’s Top Ten Climate Polluters, Australian Conservation Foundation, March 2015. (Pdf)

This report reviews the ten largest greenhouse gas emitters in Australia and compiles the data for the least efficient coal-fired power stations.

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