G7 needs to adopt balanced coal approach: FutureCoal

The following is a statement from FutureCoal, formerly known as World Coal Association, and has been edited only for style and clarity.

Following the announcement to “phase out existing unabated coal” by 2035 at the G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy, and Environment, FutureCoal insists that world leaders must embrace a balanced, pragmatic, and responsible approach to energy policy.

Chief executive Michelle Manook said the official communiqué released by the G7 is unclear in what they seek to achieve as “many of the G7 countries do not rely on coal for baseload electricity. The ones in the G7 that continue to use coal, namely Germany and Japan, have publicly stated that they still need coal to keep the lights on.”

Germany: while German legislation still calls for a coal phase-out by 2038, an earlier phase-out remains unclear. In late 2023, the finance minister dismissed the Government’s aim to phase out coal by 2030 if the country still lacks affordable energy. According to the energy regulator, the lack of sufficient and dependable standby capacity, such as coal, will pose serious problems for the German grid.

Japan: the most cautious of the G7 nations, has rightly avoided a coal phase-out date. Japan operates the world’s most efficient coal power fleet, a bedrock for electricity supplies after the mass nuclear shutdown in 2011.

A balanced approach is essential for every nation’s energy future, where affordability, reliability, and security remain crucial, especially as coal is pivotal to over 80 countries. According to the IEA, global coal demand reached an all-time high in 2022 due to increased electricity demand and industrial uses, and set to grow in 2023.

“The world needs wider apolitical leadership beyond the G7 to engage the Global South in investing in all technology solutions, including abated coal, to lower global emissions,” said Manook.

“If the G7 or other forums choose to weigh in on these debates, they must adopt a pragmatic, responsible fuel and technology-agnostic position supporting all nations’ sovereign rights.”

These forums should recognize FutureCoal’s Sustainable Coal Stewardship roadmap, which showcases the existing abatement and commercial opportunities that enable the entire coal value chain to mitigate emissions in line with the 1.5 °C goal.

“Known technologies can abate up to 99% of coal emissions during combustion,” Manook added that “genuine international cooperation is pivotal for propelling us toward our global sustainability objectives.”

In the context of the G7 Communique, “unabated coal” typically refers to coal plants not equipped with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

FutureCoal is the global alliance for sustainable coal and the world’s only coal multilateral and neutral representative organization.

Editor’s note: FutureCoal was formerly known as the World Coal Association.

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