UN chief calls to cancel all planned coal projects to stop “deadly addiction” to fossil fuel
03/05/2021 // Ramon Tomey // Views

The head of the United Nations has called to cancel all planned coal projects worldwide. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres exhorted nations to scrap their projects that use coal in order to end the "deadly addiction" to this fossil fuel. He emphasized that phasing out coal from the electricity sector is the "single most important" step to tackle the climate crisis.

Guterres said on March 2: "Today, I am calling on all governments, private companies and local authorities to take three steps. First, cancel all global coal projects in the pipeline and end the deadly addiction to coal. Second, end the international financing of coal plants. [And] third, jump-start a global effort to finally organize a just transition [for coal industry workers] – going plant by plant if necessary."

Gutierres outlined the three steps at the commencement of a Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) virtual summit. Established by the U.K. and Canada in 2017, PPCA is a group of governments and businesses committed to ending the use of coal for power generation. However, both founding countries have faced issues regarding coal mines in their respective jurisdictions.

Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson said during the summit: "By working together, we are creating a healthier future for our children and grandchildren." U.K Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth Anne-Marie Trevelyan also updated summit participants with the British effort to do away with coal. "Having gone over 5,000 hours without using coal for electricity last year, the U.K. is powering forward with the transitions away from coal ... [to] the enormous economic potential of clean technologies," she said.


While the U.K. is on schedule to end coal-fired power plants in 2024, it recently drew flak for allowing a new coal mine in Cumbria to open. The mine located in northwest England will produce 2.7 million tons of coal for steelmaking every year, with 85 percent to be allotted for export. Supporters of the Cumbria mine said it would provide 500 jobs in an area considered as among the poorest in the country.

Greenpeace UK Policy Director Doug Parr remarked that the Cumbria mine negatively impacts the U.K.'s zero-emissions efforts. He warned that "unless plans for this new mine are immediately scrapped, [Prime Minister] Boris Johnson will have damaged the credibility and moral authority needed to demand action from world leaders at host of this year's global climate conference." The U.K. is set to host the COP26 climate summit in November of this year.

Scrapping coal entirely to focus on green energy is not exactly the most prudent idea

Coal is a more reliable and consistent source of power compared to renewable sources such as wind and solar energy. While renewable energy sources produce lower carbon emissions, they come with the bigger price of producing insufficient power to meet demand. Germany is one such country that quickly ditched fossil fuels for renewable sources. (Related: Research group blames wind power for Texas grid collapse.)

Because renewable energy sources cannot produce enough power to address consumption demand, Germany has resorted to implementing rotating blackouts just to stabilize the power grid. To bring this up a notch, a German official has proposed a law rationing electricity when supply is inefficient. (Related: Rolling blackouts in California show how reliance on solar and wind power can backfire.)

According to the German magazine Tichys Einblick, the country's Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier proposed a "peak smoothing" law for electricity. The bill permits electricity providers to temporarily cut off power to "controllable consumption facilities" for up to two hours daily if supply is not enough. Electric vehicle charging stations and heat pumps could be disconnected from the power supply if there was a threat of overloading the grid. Altmaier's "peak smoothing" proposal has since been recalled.

The magazine continued: "The German government has recognized that in the future electricity system, it will no longer be possible to satisfy every demand at all times. Therefore, the control of the consumer side should be put on legal feet." It insinuated that "controllable consumers such as heat pumps, electric heaters and … charging stations for e-mobiles [being] switched off variably at times" would become an everyday occurrence.

Back then, Germany once had one of the most stable and reliable power grids worldwide – until climate change activists and their political allies pushed for green energy. Thanks to the efforts of these activists, the German parliament passed the Renewable Energy Sources Act in 2000. But the law caused more harm than good to the German power grid. Worse, the Bundestag has doubled down on green energy despite insufficient power production by ordering the closure of coal and nuclear power plants that produce more energy.

Visit PowerGrid.news for more about the shift from more reliable fossil fuels to unstable green energy.

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