Coal is the climate culprit says new assessment

Posted: 12 November 2008

Calling for an 'energy revolution' The International Energy Agency (IEA)warned today that unless governments put into place the right policies and measures, global coal use will grow by at least two per cent a year until 2030 - much more than the other conventional fuels. This would make it very difficult for the world to make the emissions cuts necessary to avoid dangerous climate change in the future.

Delta Power Station, fueled by coal, Mount Piper, New South Wales, Australia© WWF-Canon / Adam Oswell
Commenting on the IEA's new World Energy Outlook, WWF said it shares the view that the use of coal is the biggest threat to the world's climate.

"We do share the view of the IEA that an energy revolution is needed. What concerns us is that, despite acknowledging the damaging effect ofhigh carbon energy sources, the IEA fails to call for an end to 'business-as-usual' coal," said Dr Keith Allott, Head of Climate Change at WWF-UK.

"Currently, even countries such as the UK, which has positioned itself as a leader on climate change, are considering plans to develop new unabated coal-fired power stations. This would lock us into a high carbon future, when globally, our focus should be placed on developing clean and renewable energy sources.

"WWF-UK believes that there can be no new coal-fired power plants in developed countries without carbon capture and storage being in placefrom the outset."

Post combustion capture plant
Post combustion capture plant
A post combustion capture pilot plant similar to this one will be installed at Huaneng Beijing Co-Generation Power Plant. Photo credit: CSIRO/ Murray McKean
An alternative climate-compatible scenario, included in the IEA outlook for the first time, aims at keeping atmospheric CO2 concentration at the less dangerous level of 450ppm. This would cost about $US 9 trillion more than 'business as usual' over the next 25 years but yield enormous pay-back in saved energy costs.

"IEA's climate friendly scenario is truly ambitious compared to earlier IEA scenarios, but it still underestimates what is required," said Dr Allott. "It sets the bar too low by talking about achieving an almost 40 per cent CO2 reduction by the OECD by 2030 based on 2006 levels. What we need is a more robust target, of a 25-40 per cent reduction over 1990 levels from developed by 2020 in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change."

Related links:

Coal boom could stifle climate plans

US moving towards ban on coal-fired power plants?