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Powering Past Coal Report

Energy Day, COP27, Egypt: Marking its fifth anniversary the Alliance has published Powering Past Coal – The state of global action to end emissions from coal power – a report featuring thirteen case studies illustrating the practical choices, pathways, and strategies pursued by diverse PPCA members to end emissions from coal power for good. Drawn from OECD and non-OECD countries within the PPCA’s growing membership these case studies span policy, social, technical, and financial solutions. Together they showcase the action being taken by PPCA members to overcome the system challenges that can arise when countries accelerate coal phase-out, modernise electricity grids, shift investments towards clean energy, and drive a just transition creating new clean energy jobs. 

UK Minister of State for Climate Change and PPCA co-Chair, Graham Stuart, said: “We have seen remarkable progress on coal phase-out since the world came together at COP26 and that progress must continue at COP27, with strong and bold international initiatives like the Powering Past Coal Alliance.  

“Today’s report from the International Energy Agency shows that coal has no future, so we must deliver a just transition for workers and communities, who can benefit from new green jobs and clean renewable energy.” 

Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and PPCA co-Chair said “Consigning coal to history is the only way to ensure a clean, sustainable future. The Powering Past Coal Alliance has helped ensure over three quarters of coal power in OECD member countries is retired or is scheduled to close by 2030. On top of that, proposed new coal projects have fallen by 76% globally.  

“Here in Canada, our legislated net-zero commitment, price on carbon and clean electricity regulations put us on track to end of unabated coal power by 2030. This report shows us that momentum is accelerating as we head into COP27. It also sets out a clear challenge to the public and private sector: more must be done by working together.” 

Mafalda Duarte, CEO of the Climate Investment Funds added, “The coal-to-clean transition won’t be easy, but there is no winning our fight against climate change without it. In the developing world, where millions of people depend on coal for their livelihoods, this moment demands a well-planned just transition that addresses coal’s complex staying power and supports those most at risk. This report paints a clear path forward. It shows what is possible if we remove key barriers to change, swiftly provide the concessional finance needed, and help relevant institutions and stakeholders embrace transformational change.” 

Michael Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions and Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, said “We’ve taken important steps towards ending coal use. In the U.S., we’ve closed more than two-thirds of coal plants in the last decade. In Europe, more than 50% of coal plants are now set to retire by 2030. That progress has helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deadly air pollution. This report outlines the progress we’ve made globally and shows where and how we can do more – including ending subsidies for the coal industry and stopping private financing for new coal plants. The faster we cut coal use and accelerate the deployment of clean energy, the more lives we can save, and the better our chances of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.” 

Analysis provided in the report confirms that: 

  • over three quarters of coal-fired electricity generation capacity in the OECD and EU is now on track to close by 2030 
  • the scale of proposed new coal power plants has collapsed globally by the same amount since 2015 
  • both these dynamics are well underway and approaching iconic tipping points that will accelerate an irreversible transition away from coal power and towards clean electricity  
  • a future without emissions from coal power – the single most important first step the world must take to meet Paris Agreement climate goals – is not just achievable, but will be cheaper, more secure, and help ensure a cleaner future for workers and communities.  
  • despite a short-term crunch and energy security concerns arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, over a long-term trajectory coal is firmly on the way out. 

The PPCA recognises the need for a global clean energy transition and that some countries, particularly the most vulnerable, need support to achieve a swift coal phase-out whilst delivering a just transition for workers and communities. Going forward, the work of PPCA’s Secretariat, led by Julia Skorupska, will focus on helping the Alliance and its members to continue driving dialogue, share lessons learned and enable more countries – particularly those most coal-dependent and outside the OECD – to develop coal phase-out strategies.    

Phasing coal out of the power sector is a crucial first step to keep temperatures from rising above 1.5C because coal remains the single biggest contributor to human-created climate change. Deep and rapid reductions in global coal emissions are required this decade to keep on track for no more than 1.5C global warming. This requires an immediate end to the building of new unabated coal power plants, rapid scaling up of clean power and the retirement of existing coal fleets in advanced economies by 2030 and globally by 2040. 

The PPCA is co-chaired by the governments of Canada and the UK. Canada has a legislated net-zero commitment, a price on carbon, and regulations to end unabated coal power generation by 2030. Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reductions Plan provides a sector-by-sector roadmap with a suite of new measures to cut emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030, and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The UK is committed to phasing out unabated coal generation by October 2024, building on a swift decline of coal generation from 40% of electricity supply in 2012 to less than 2% in 2020. By 2035, subject to security of supply, the UK will have decarbonised its electricity system. 

The 13 case studies in the new report Powering Past Coal include:  

  • Policy solutions – national and sub-national efforts decarbonise power generation and diversify the energy system using legislation supported by key stakeholders, including swift coal phase-out in the UK, national and regional policy alignment in Canada, accelerating coal exit in Chile, and subnational action in South Korea. 
  • Social solutions – a better future for all through the pursuit of a just transition to clean energy to advance and accelerate coal phase-out in Alberta, Germany and Poland.  
  • Finance and investment solutions – Development of transition mechanisms to speed up the retirement of coal power plants in New Mexico, efforts to encourage French financial institutions to adopt science-based timeframes to phase coal out of investment portfolios and shift to clean energy, and new global investment funds supporting accelerated coal transition in non-OECD countries.    
  • Technical solutions – the transformation of a Danish oil and gas company into a green energy pioneer, and the development of reliable, flexible, affordable, accessible and emissions free electricity grids to replace centralised fossil fuel infrastructure in Germany and the UK.