Saturday, July 4, 2015

New coal plants 'most urgent' threat to the planet, warns OECD head

Fiona Harvey in the Guardian (UK): Governments must rethink plans for new coal-fired power plants around the world, as these are now the “most urgent” threat to the future of the planet, the head of the OECD has warned. In unusually strong terms for the organisation – best known as a club of the world’s richest countries – its secretary general Angel Gurria, told governments to think “twice, or three, or four times” before allowing new coal-fired plants to go ahead.

“They will still be emitting years from now,” he warned. As a result, many could turn into “stranded assets”, having to be mothballed decades before their economic lifetime had expired. “We are on a collision course with nature,” he warned.

New research, published by the OECD on Thursday, has found that, on current trends, coal-fired power generation will result in more than 500bn tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere between now and 2050. That is the equivalent of about half of the “carbon budget” – the amount of greenhouse gas that we can safely pour into the atmosphere – for this half-century, if we are to stay within the 2C limit that is widely agreed as the threshold for dangerous climate change.

Gurria said that financing from rich countries to provide access to renewable energy in developing nations as an alternative to coal should
form a key part of the discussions in the run-up to the crunch UN climate talks in Paris in December. Governments are hoping to agree a new deal on greenhouse gas emissions involving all countries, to take effect from 2020 when current commitments expire, and with absolute cuts in emissions from the rich nations and curbs on the growth of future emissions from the poor....

A Drax coal-fired power station in the UK, shot by Paul Glazzard, Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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