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What are the achievements of the PPCA so far? And what steps will it take next to tackle the climate emergency?

As part of COP25, we convened a discussion to showcase our progress to date, announce new members and initiatives, and outline our plans in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow in 2020.

UK Minister for Climate Change, Lord Ian Duncan explained that phasing out coal is not only an energy system transition, but also a cultural one. He said:

‘By creating the Powering Past Coal Alliance we have done something extraordinary. We are sure that we can [phase out coal], and we are sure that we can work with others to do the same thing. It is heartening to see so many other countries joining to recognise where the future lies.’

Canadian Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced that six new members joined the Alliance at COP25, raising the total to 97 members. Wilkinson said:

‘Our goals are not just ambitious; they are necessary and realistic. Now more than ever, the work of the Powering Past Coal Alliance is vital for our efforts to fight climate change. Phasing out coal and finding cleaner energy sources are the most powerful actions we can collectively take to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.’

Greek Minister Kostis Hatzidakis reaffirmed Greece’s commitment to phasing out all coal-powered electricity production by 2028. Asked about the reasons for joining the PPCA, Hatzidakis said:

‘Greece is particularly happy to join this alliance. The transition to the post-lignite era is terra incognita for us. We need your experience – the countries, the regions which are more advanced – in order to follow your path. The commitment [to a coal phase-out] is there, but we shouldn’t underestimate the repercussions for local communities.’

Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz highlighted the speed of the transition away from coal in Israel – it produced roughly 65 percent of electricity in 2012 but only 30 percent this year – and a plan to end the use of coal power in 2025. Steinitz gave an honest account of the lessons learnt:

‘It was not easy. We had to prove […] that we can keep the same level of energy security and still terminate the use of coal. We are ready to give advice and to share our experience of this rapid transition with all your members.’

German State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth said that while Germany adopted the 2038 date to exit coal, the phase out could be completed earlier. He also highlighted the massive reduction of coal electricity generation in the first nine months of 2019. He said:

‘The coal phase out needs to be coupled with a just transition, which is a very important topic in my country. It also needs to be accompanied by an aggressive increase in renewables.’

Danish Minister Dan Jørgensen spoke about Denmark’s legally binding target to reduce emissions by 70 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels adopted by the Danish parliament in December. He explained:

‘We need to set targets that are so ambitious that we push ourselves to technology development. One example of what we have done in my country is offshore wind. The prices went down dramatically. On a global scale, offshore wind can now compete with coal.’

Dutch Climate Envoy Marcel Beukeboom announced that the Dutch Senate has just approved the Coal Act, which effectively bans the use coal in electricity generation by 2030. He said:

‘The Netherlands has five coal power plants at the moment, two of them brand new. Many people have said you are crazy that you are closing them down already […]. This transition is widely supported in society. I hope that other countries and jurisdictions will follow suit.’

Helen Wildsmith, Stewardship Director at CCLA Investment Management welcomed the three new finance members of the Alliance who joined at COP25 and announced the creation of a new Finance Taskforce made up of financial institutions seeking to accelerate coal phase-out.

Private sector members of the Alliance, Will Gardner, CEO of Drax and Gonzalo Sáenz de Miera, Director of Climate Change of Iberdrola talked about their new ambitions with respect to coal phase-out efforts.