At the COP 23 climate conference in Bonn, Germany this week, Canada and the UK announced that they are spearheading a global alliance to phase out the use of coal completely. The two countries expect 9 other nations to join their alliance shortly and anticipate a total of 50 countries will have signed on to the effort by the time the next climate conference convenes in Katowice, Poland — widely considered one of Europe’s most polluted cities. Coal is responsible for more than 40% of global carbon emissions.
The Powering Past Coal alliance has sent a letter to all the member nations attending the COP 23 conference urging them to join in the effort to get rid of coal entirely. The letter was signed by Britain’s climate change and industry minister Claire Perry, Canadian minister of environment and climate change Catherine McKenna, and the Marshall Islands’ minister for foreign affairs and trade, John Silk.
According to Reuters, which was first to report the news, Mexico, France, Finland, New Zealand, Italy, and one African country are expected to sign on to the alliance shortly, along with 20 other entities including several US states, Canadian provinces, and businesses. “Joining Powering Past Coal is an opportunity to bring these national initiatives together, with sub-national and private sector action,” the letter reads. “We would strongly urge you to sign or endorse the declaration of the global alliance to Power Past Coal.”
Coal remains one of the primary sources of electrical power for much of the world. Germany is struggling to build a coalition government because the Green Party, which is an essential partner, is pushing hard for the closure of 20 lignite-powered generating facilities in exchange for its support of a new government. China and India have hundreds of coal plants in operation, but both countries are champions of renewable energy in order to ameliorate the persistent smog that hangs over each country as a result of the emissions from burning coal.
The Trump administration embarrassed itself and all Americans this week when its delegation attempted to make a presentation touting the benefits of burning coal. Most of the people in the room walked out amid hoots of derision and scorn. The presentation included at least one employee of Peabody Coal, America’s largest coal producer. Such tone deaf policies threaten to turn the US into a pariah nation.