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3 Dec, 2023 00:14

US commits to ditching coal

The US has the third-largest number of coal-burning power stations in the world and hopes to pressure allies 
US commits to ditching coal

The US will close all its coal-fired power plants, climate envoy John Kerry pledged at the COP28 climate conference on Saturday, announcing the country will join the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) to phase out the fossil fuel.

The deadline for the commitment is reportedly 2035, the date the presidential administration has held up as its goal for phasing out fossil fuels entirely. The country’s energy needs will be met with wind and solar, according to Kerry.

The US, which has the third-largest contingent of coal-fired power stations on Earth, has not built a new one in over a decade and hopes to close more than half of its existing coal plants in the next “several years,” according to a PPCA press release issued on Saturday. 

The US gets just under 20% of its electricity from coal, and plans to close 173 plants by 2030 and another 54 by 2040, according to a report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Finance Analysis.

Kerry hinted that the US membership in the alliance would be used to promote renewables. “We will be working to accelerate unabated coal phase-out across the world, building stronger economies and more resilient communities,” he said in a statement.

The Czech Republic, Norway, Iceland, Cyprus, and the Dominican Republic also signed on to the PPCA, bringing its membership to over 50 countries, though Cyprus, Iceland and Norway have no coal plants and the Dominican Republic gets just 10% of its energy this way. However, the Czech Republic, the third-largest consumer of coal in Europe, hopes to replace 50% of its energy derived from the fuel by 2033.

The disputed territory of Kosovo has also joined the alliance. Despite getting 95% of its electricity from coal, it has vowed to meet a 2050 phase-out deadline.

While the major new signatories’ guidelines appear to violate the PPCA’s own edict to “immediately end the construction of new coal power plants and phase out existing plants by 2030 in the OECD and EU, and by 2040 elsewhere” so as to “keep the 1.5°C goal within reach,” the organization’s press release did not address the temporal disparities.

France has also announced the creation of a Coal Transition Accelerator, a partnership with private corporations seeking to curtail their financing of further coal plant construction in countries that have not yet pledged to get rid of the fuel. Communities that previously relied on coal for their economies will be “supported” with financial incentives to adopt renewables, according to an outline presented during the conference.

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