Two years on from its launch, the Powering Past Coal Alliance brought together sub-national members at the US Climate Action Centre at COP25 on 10 December. The event provided insight into the policies and programs that sub-national governments deploy to achieve emissions reductions, while empowering a just transition.
Ontario’s experience rapidly closing it’s coal
Minister Jeff Yurek, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks gave a speech about Ontario’s rapid closure of coal.
From 25% in 2003 to zero in 2014! Eliminating coal in Ontario was the biggest emission reduction initiative in Canadian history.— Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) (@PastCoal) December 10, 2019
It is doable, worth it and can be done while improving grid reliability, says @JeffYurekMPP, Ontario Minister of the Environment @ONenvironment #COP25 pic.twitter.com/EmgXj1wPEA
Rocky Mountain Institute joins the Powering Past Coal Alliance
Jules Kortenhorst, CEO, Rocky Mountain Institute, announced that the Rocky Mountain Institute was partnering with the Powering Past Coal Alliance, and spoke about the efforts of US actors in powering past coal.
How can states, regions, and cities take the lead on developing emissions reduction methods in the absence of national policy?
Aitor Urresti González, Director General for Energy Transition, Government of the Balearic Islands explained that in the case of Spain, energy is managed from central government, so the Balearics didn’t have much space to take action, but they knew they needed to do something. They began working on a climate change act and energy transition in 2015 and have created a pathway to exceed 100% renewables by 2050. In January 2020 they are closing half their coal fired power plant.
Balearic Islands will be severely hit by #climatechange. Subnational government decided there was no time to wait for the central government to act.— Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) (@PastCoal) December 10, 2019
Now they target a 100% share for renewable energies by 2050, says Aitor Urresti González of @goib pic.twitter.com/Z0kJQA7GyM
Scott Glenn, Chief Energy Officer, Hawaii State Energy Office spoke about the tough goal that Hawaii's utilities have, to bring on enough new generation to take their coal plant offline in 2022.
Commissioner Andrew McAllister, California Energy Commission explained how the state had legislated to close coal. On top of market forces, it set an "increasingly aggressive" renewable portfolio standard, a hundred percent clean energy goal, an executive order to decarbonise the whole economy by 2045, and a cap and trade program.
Burning coal to create electricity has been in steep decline in California.— Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) (@PastCoal) December 10, 2019
The writing is on the wall: coal is not going to be economically viable, says Andrew McAllister, California Energy Commission @CalEnergy. #COP25 pic.twitter.com/UYIUCufBJE
Chris Davis, Senior Advisor, Climate and Energy Affair, Office of Governor Jay Inslee outlined Washington State’s efforts to close coal which began in 2006, when the state achieved a closure agreement with their final coal plant. In spring 2019 the state passed a 100% clean standard, eliminating all coal by 2024, including imports of electricity from coal. By 2045, 100 percent of all electricity in the state will be fossil free.
Washington state has set a 2025 deadline for utilities to end all reliance on coal, and a 2045 deadline to end use of fossil fuels for electricity, says Chris Davis, Office of Washington Governor @JayInslee pic.twitter.com/rrDexVSNXY— Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) (@PastCoal) December 10, 2019
How was an inclusive stakeholder engagement and consultation process used to support the implementation of policies and programs, as well as a Just Transition?
Chris Davis, Senior Advisor, Climate and Energy Affair, Office of Governor Jay Inslee, referenced the closure of Centralia coal fired plant, the last major coal facility in the State whose 2024 closure date was partly chosen to align with the retirement age of many of those working there.
Scott Glenn, Chief Energy Officer, Hawaii State Energy Office, took a slightly different point of view. Hawaii doesn't have a cap-and-trade program but instead consider the avoided annual costs of importing a billion dollars worth of coal from Indonesia, to help pay for the transition.
Avoiding the costs of fossil fuels imported to Hawaii will finance the transition towards renewable energy sources, says Scott Glenn, Hawaii State Energy Office, @EnergyHawaiiGov pic.twitter.com/048tOV66jn— Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) (@PastCoal) December 10, 2019
What factors were critical for success and what issues posed the toughest challenges? What lessons can other states, regions, and cities learn from your example?
Aitor Urresti González, Director General for Energy Transition, Government of the Balearic Islands stressed the importance of knowing what worries stakeholders and how to to take on board their expectations.