Saturday 1st October 2016                 Change text size:

UK among G7 countries that have increased coal use



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Despite pledging to take climate action five G7 countries have increased their coal use in the last five years, according to a report. It is estimated that coal plants in the G7 will cost the world $450 billion (£294bn) a year by the end of the century and reduce crops by millions of tonnes.

The paper – Let Them Eat Coal – has been published by Oxfam. The report has been published as G7 leaders meet in Germany to discuss a range of issues, including climate change, ahead of an important UN conference in December.

Coal is responsible for almost three-quarters of power sector emissions. More than half of the emissions today from coal consumption come from developing countries but the scale of G7 coal burning is described as “considerable”. Despite agreeing to take climate action in 2009, five of the G7 countries – France, Italy, Japan, the UK, and Germany – are now burning more coal, according to the report.

Max Lawson, Oxfam’s head of global policy and campaigns, said, “The G7’s addiction to coal is hiking up costs for developing countries and putting more and more people on the frontline of climate change at risk of hunger.

“Ahead of the UN climate talks later this year, G7 leaders need to go cold turkey on coal and recognise their responsibility to lead the way towards renewables. This will make significant additional cuts in their carbon emissions, generate jobs and give the step-change needed towards a safer, sustainable and prosperous future for everyone.”

Oxfam argues that G7 leaders should shift from coal to renewable. The report analyses each of the G7’s energy mixes and sets out when each can feasibly become coal free. It finds that all seven countries could cut out coal by 2040.

The UK is described as feasibly being able to stop burning coal for its energy supply by 2023. In order to make this happen the UK government would need to set out a plan backed by clear policies, such as investing in smarter energy storage, reducing energy demand and improving energy efficiency.

Photo: John Nyberg via Freeimages

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Further reading:

G7 leaders to discuss climate change goals

Norway’s pension fund to divest from coal

US coal decline a warning for fossil fuel investors, says Carbon Tracker

Church of England divests from coal and tar sands

Coal company ‘exploited’ Ebola crisis for corporate gains


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