On the topic of climate change, much is written about the continued use of coal for power. There is a widely accepted view from many actors, including climate scientists and NGOs, that coal will need to be phased out completely in order to successfully transition to the low carbon economy. https://unfccc.int/news/paris-agreement-triggers-divestment-from-coal-study
However, this is not without complexities. Across the globe new coal fired power stations are still being built – in some cases being funded by European financiers. I am intrigued as the treatment of coal power is just one example of the tough decisions which will need to be taken with respect to climate change, particularly in the context of economic growth.
Many developed countries have benefited economically from coal powered energy. For example, the industrial revolution in the UK. In much of the developed world coal is now being phased out and cleaner alternatives rapidly being sought. However, in some developing countries a growth in coal power is still being supported – it is argued the context is different in these countries. This different context is due to a perceived lack of practical alternatives to coal (E.g. existing individual diesel generators, no electric grid infrastructure) and due to the fact industrialisation has not yet taken place. I am mindful it is very easy to have a European-centric view of the world and see turning coal off immediately as obvious – the decision may not be that simple if you had not benefited from the prosperity it is perceived to bring.
In my view listening to scientific research with regards to coal is important, specifically avoiding negative consequences. Cleaner alternative should certainly be sought – the cost of renewables coming down will support this. Engaging with companies and governments who continue to support coal is also key – where possible reducing or containing emissions of existing coal power and developing so-called clean coal may possibly offer solutions… Having tough conversations in a non-adversarial manner is critical, listening and communicating effectively with actors on both sides of the debate to ultimately figure out solutions.
Happy to hear any thoughts, particularly where there is a tension between coal power and economic development in developing countries…