NEW REPORT: Nearly $1 Trillion Wasted Globally On Extraneous Coal Projects, Amount Could End World Energy Poverty

For Immediate Release

Contact: 
Cindy Carr, Sierra Club, Washington, DC, (202) 495-3034 or cindy.carr@sierraclub.org
Ted Nace, CoalSwarm, California, (510) 331-8743 or ted@tednace.com
Lauri Myllyvirta, Greenpeace, Beijing, +86 157 1002 1563 or lauri.myllyvirta@greenpeace.org

NEW REPORT: Nearly $1 Trillion Wasted Globally On Extraneous Coal Projects, Amount Could End World Energy Poverty

Second Global Coal Plant Tracker Report Shows Risk Of Excessive Investment Remains After Reported China Coal Permit Suspension

WASHINGTON - Today, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and CoalSwarm released Boom and Bust 2016: Tracking The Global Coal Plant Pipeline, the second annual report examining the precarious global coal plant pipeline. New investigations detailed in the report revealed that while the coal industry continues to push for the construction of more coal-fired power plants, in reality, coal plants are increasingly sitting idle in all of the world’s four largest markets, and global coal consumption is declining drastically. This is particularly evident in China where the government recently took the first step to curb runaway coal plant investment, after the country’s coal use plunged by nearly 6.4 percent in two years.

The report’s unprecedentedly detailed mapping of new coal-fired power plants indicates the reported suspension of new permits and new construction starting in half of China’s provinces could affect 60 percent of the 460 new coal-fired units that have been permitted or are in the permitting process.

With coal use on the decline worldwide, the estimated $981 billion needed to construct the proposed coal plant pipeline represents a massive investment in potentially stranded assets -- resulting in an even further downward spiral for the global coal industry. In fact, this number is more than one-and-a-half times the amount that the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates is needed to end energy poverty for the 1.2 billion people currently living without reliable energy access. On top of this staggering revelation, the report found that the additional new proposed coal capacity would result in over 130,000 more premature deaths worldwide each year from air pollution and finds that existing coal-fired power plants are responsible for a total of nearly one million premature deaths annually from coal-fired power generation.

“The era of Big Coal is clearly coming to an end, and it’s long past time to move beyond dangerous, outdated, and polluting energy sources toward an economy powered by clean, renewable sources of energy like solar and wind,” said Nicole Ghio, senior campaigner for the Sierra Club’s International Climate and Energy campaign. “Coal use keeps falling off a cliff and plants are sitting idle, yet more money is being wasted on misguided attempts at locking in this dirty, dangerous fuel. The hundreds of billions being thrown at coal could instead go toward the booming clean energy sector, helping more than a billion people get access to the clean, reliable electricity that fossil fuels have failed to deliver.”

“Although this research has revealed hundreds of billions being squandered on unneeded coal plants, there’s more at stake here than money,” said Ted Nace, director of CoalSwarm. “In terms of climate safety, the clock is ticking on the transition to clean energy. There is no time to waste.”

“As coal-fired power plants are rapidly becoming uncompetitive, and concerns about their massive health impacts grow, the coal industry is making a last-ditch push,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, senior global campaigner on Coal and Air Pollution at Greenpeace. “China alone is housing the largest power market investment bubble the world has ever seen. Even after announcing suspension of new permits in 13 provinces, the country could still bring over 500 new coal-fired power plant units online while power generation from coal is falling precipitously on clean energy growth and slower power demand.”

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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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