Twenty countries plus two US states will phase out coal use by 2030

A global alliance of 20 countries plus two US states and 5 Canadian provinces have agreed to phase out coal use in power plants by 2030.

The states of Washington and Oregon joined the alliance that includes several European countries.


Since signing the Paris Agreement in 2015, which aims to wean the world off fossil fuels, several countries have made national plans to phase out coal from their power supply mix.

The Powering Past Coal alliance brings together many of these countries and others that will commit to phasing out coal, sharing technology to reduce emissions, such as carbon capture and storage, and encouraging the rest of the world to cut usage.

Coal is responsible for more than 40 per cent of global emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

The alliance includes Angola, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Portugal and Switzerland, ministers said.

The U.S. states of Washington and Oregon, as well as five Canadian provinces have also signed up.

The alliance, which is not legally binding, aims to have at least 50 members by the next U.N. climate summit in 2018 to be held in Poland’s Katowice, one of Europe’s most polluted cities.

“To meet the Paris Agreement target of staying below 2 degrees, we need to phase out coal,” Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna told a news conference to launch the alliance initiative.

“There is also an immediate urgency - coal is literally choking and killing our people. The market has moved, the world has moved. Coal is not coming back,” she added.

That last statement is silly, It presupposes that there will be no scientific advances in the next decade that would make coal much cleaner to burn.

In fact, the clean coal revolution is just around the corner:

When completed early this year, at a cost of about $150 million, these 5 acres of steel and concrete, pipes, tanks and high-voltage lines will become the proving ground for a technology called the Allam Cycle. It's a novel electric-generation system that burns natural gas and captures all the produced carbon dioxide. The best part is that it makes electricity at the same low cost as other modern gas-fired turbines--about 6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Environmentalists are hopeful. "It's not just a bridge, it's a destination," says John Thompson, who directs the carbon-capture program at the Clean Air Task Force. Renewable energy sources haven't scaled fast enough to replace fossil fuels, and zero-carbon nuclear is too expensive. "We're going to have to use fossil fuels in the future whether we like it or not," Allam says. "The challenge will be in using fossil fuels to produce electricity without emitting CO2 into the atmosphere."

Technology will not be a barrier to burning coal more cleanly. Government regulations that have deliberately tried to destroy the coal industry are the culprits. What's more, this isn't the only commercially viable method for clean burning coal. In the next 5 years there will be several different methods to make coal an ideal bridge between the widespread use of fossil fuels today and the use of renewable energy sources in the future.

Renewables promise to eventually compete succcessfully with fossil fuels, but that day is decades away. It's ridiculous to refuse to utilize the most abundant energy source in the world if it can be burned with little detriment to the environment. 

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