Coal power can be part of the solution to tackling global warming, the UN climate chief told a major coal industry summit on Monday.
Her remarks, at a summit that takes place as the second week of UN climate negotiations get under way in Warsaw, prompted strong criticism from the head of the UK’s climate statutory advisers and environment campaigners.
Christiana Figueres told delegates at the International Coal and Climate summit in Warsaw that they had “the opportunity to be part of the worldwide climate solution” by switching off old coal power plants, capturing and storing carbon from new plants and leaving most of the world’s coal reserves in the ground. She also said coal power could help poorer countries’ economic development and poverty reduction, but that the industry “must change”.
“We must urgently take the steps that put us on an ambitious path to global peaking [of emissions] by the end of this decade, and zero-net emissions by the second half of the century. Steps that look past next quarter’s bottom line and see next generation’s bottom line, and steps to figure health, security and sustainability into the bottom line.”
Youth climate campaigners and environmental groups had called on Figueres not to give her speech to the summit, but she told them that she would attend because “it is simply not enough to speak only to the committed.”
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects have suffered several setbacks in recent years, with a £1bn competition in the UK for a commercial plant failing and the number of projects dropping by 10% worldwide since 2012. …
John Gummer, the chair of the government’s climate advisers and former UK environment minister, said that “calling coal a clean solution is like characterising sex trafficking as marriage guidance.”