Coal exit by 2040 to keep climate goals within reach - report
In 2015, governments pledged in the Paris Agreement to attempt to keep global warming since pre-industrial times to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Science shows that phasing out coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, is essential to achieving that goal.
Previous analyses gave a global phase-out date of 2050. New and updated science on what is needed to meet the Paris Agreement 1.5°C limit shows that governments now need to advance the date by a decade. The analysis confirms that developed nations need to phase-out coal faster than the rest of the world – by 2030.
With investors increasingly wary of putting money into coal, the global pipeline of new coal-fired power stations has fallen by 75% since 2015. Ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September, UN Secretary-General Guterres called on governments to go further, and stop the approval of new coal power plants entirely by 2020.
But the new analysis shows cancelling new projects is no longer sufficient. The lack of progress means that the reductions in coal use in the electricity sector in the next decade will need to be very steep.
“We’ve seen some progress since 2015, from announcements of national coal phase-out plans to ever more investors and banks limiting financing for coal,” said report author Paola Yanguas Parra, who leads the work on decarbonisation strategies at Climate Analytics.
“However, while cancelling coal plans is a step in the right direction, as it will reduce the risk of stranded assets, governments now need to introduce effective regulation to shut down coal power plants well before the end of their technical lifetime and considerably reduce their use in the meantime,” said Yanguas Parra.
Two factors lead to the advance of the coal phase-out date. One is that governments have not tackled coal use adequately since the Paris Summit. The other is that last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave a much clearer picture than was available in 2015 of how fast emissions need to fall in order to stay below the 1.5°C limit.
This leads to four key dates:
- Global coal emissions should peak in 2020;
- Global coal use in electricity generation must fall by 80% below 2010 levels by 2030;
- OECD nations should end coal use entirely by 2030;
- All coal-fired power stations must be shut by 2040 at the latest.
Governments have an opportunity to turn this analysis into national commitments over the course of next year, during which they are due to review and strengthen the pledges (the nationally-determined contributions or NDCs) that they originally made for the Paris Agreement.
“UN Secretary-General Guterres is absolutely right to focus his climate action summit on coal, because rapid coal phase-out is the single most important step to keep the objectives of the Paris Agreement within reach,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics and co-author of the report.
“It is critical that governments scale up their NDCs by 2020, as laid out in the Paris Agreement. These significantly stronger pledges must include clear commitments to phase out coal, remove subsidies for fossil fuels, and build support for renewables and energy efficiency,” said Hare.
Carbon capture and storage could unleash 86 billion tonne carbon bomb
A new analysis finds reliance on carbon capture and storage could release an extra 86 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere between 2020 and 2050.
Projected warming almost unchanged for two years as governments push false solutions over climate action
Despite their promises, governments have not taken enough action to drive down warming projections, with some instead turning to false solutions such as carbon capture and storage to continue the world's reliance on fossil fuels, according to the Climate Action Tracker's annual warming update.
Oil and gas majors could have paid for their share of climate loss and damage and still earned 10 trillion USD: new report
Global climate damages from emissions associated with the top 25 oil and gas ‘carbon majors’ between 1985 and 2018 are estimated at 20 trillion USD compared to the 30 trillion USD they earned over the same period, according to a new report released today by international think tank Climate Analytics.
A 1.5˚C pathway for the Philippines power sector entirely feasible: analysis
With the right international funding and policies in place, the Philippines could transition its’ power sector to near-100% renewable energy without compromising on the costs of electricity, reducing its reliance on expensive imports of both coal and gas, and creating up to a million jobs by 2050.
State of Climate Action report finds progress lags on every measure except EV sales
Global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C are failing across the board, with recent progress made on every indicator — except electric passenger car sales — lagging significantly behind the pace and scale that is necessary to address the climate crisis.
Governments plan to produce double the fossil fuels in 2030 than the 1.5°C warming limit allows
The Production Gap Report finds governments plan to produce around 110% more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C, and 69% more than would be consistent with 2°C.
Beetaloo fracking and Middle Arm emissions wildly underestimated: analysis
An independent analysis of the projected emissions from the Northern Territory's proposed Beetaloo Basin gas fracking project — and the associated Middle Arm LNG precinct in Darwin Harbour — has found they've been gravely underestimated, as have the availability of offsets to deal with them.
Comic artists respond to the climate crisis
Three leading comic creators have collaborated with the Horizon Europe project, CONSTRAIN, to develop comics exploring the climate change challenge.
Adelle Thomas elected as Vice-Chair of the IPCC's Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability group
Dr. Adelle Thomas elected as Vice-Chair of the IPCC's Working Group II contribution on on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability for the seventh assessment report cycle
Changes to the jet stream could trigger simultaneous crop failures impacting global food security
This new study finds that the jet stream – air currents in the upper atmosphere – can synchronise extreme weather caused by climate change, resulting in crop failures in multiple countries at the same time.