Moving Beyond Coal: time to scale up renewables to fight poverty
Climate Action Moreland, after discussion on our email list, has joined with over 40 NGOs at COP22 in Marrakech in a statement on Beyond coal: Scaling up clean energy to fight poverty.
Climate Action Moreland has campaigned for energy transition from coal to renewables in Victoria, but we think Australia’s export coal is also a huge problem, especially when it is justified on the grounds of reducing poverty.
Last year in Paris at COP21 Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop justified Australia’s coal export as alleviating hunger : “Coal-fired power generation is here to stay,” she said. “Fossil fuels will remain critical to promoting prosperity, growing economies, alleviating hunger for years to come,”
Our member John Englart at COP22 in Marrakech said,
“We take this opportunity to wholeheartedly reject Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop’s statement made at last years conference on coal being a solution to hunger and poverty.”
“Developing nations need the roll out of clean energy, not more coal pollution that destroys our climate.”
“Clean coal is a myth and will not reduce poverty.” he said.
“Australia should start phasing out our export coal trade and stop all forms of subsidy for fossil fuels.”
“Australia should be supporting and financing clean energy and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in reducing poverty, not promoting the export of coal.”
The statement was organised by Christian Aid UK. (Press Release) The NGO statement in full follows below:
Eradicating global poverty is within reach, but under threat from a changing climate. Left unchecked, climate change will put at risk our ability to lift people out of extreme poverty permanently by 2030, the first target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Coal is the world’s number one source of CO2 emissions. Most historic emissions came from the coal industry in the developed world in the last century, with China joining the biggest emitters at the beginning of this one. It is widely accepted that a rapid and just response to climate change will require the urgent replacement of coal with low-carbon energy sources in rich economies. Better energy options also exist to lift people out of income poverty in the developing world. These can deliver not just universal energy access, but also lift people’s incomes by powering economic development and employment.
The coal industry claims that expanding coal use is critical to fighting extreme poverty and improving energy access for billions of people in developing countries. In fact, the opposite is true.
The global commitment to eradicate extreme poverty and energy poverty by 2030 does not require the expansion of coal power, and it is incompatible with stabilizing the earth’s climate. The evidence is clear: a lasting solution to poverty requires the world’s wealthiest economies to renounce coal, and we can and must end extreme poverty without the precipitous expansion of new coal power in developing ones.
An urgent shift to renewable and efficient energy systems is required to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement, SDG1 on eradicating global poverty by 2030 and SDG7 on universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030,
The following actions must be prioritized:
- G20 governments must stop all forms of subsidy for fossil fuels.
- All forms of public support for coal capacity expansion should be phased out.
- All support for energy through bilateral and multilateral channels must prioritize the delivery of SDG7 on ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.
- Development institutions must apply monitoring and reporting frameworks that track the poverty reduction and development impact of their energy support.
- Developing and emerging economies should develop plans for a sustainable and socially just energy shift, in line with implementing the SDGs and their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, identifying support needed from development partners.
- Public and private finance must be more transparent about exposure to carbon risk.
Note: For a more detailed discussion of these issues see the report ‘Beyond Coal: Scaling up clean energy to fight poverty’ a collaboration of the the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (UK), the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (India), Christian Aid (UK), the Institute for Development Studies (UK), the Institute for Essential Service Reform (Indonesia), the Overseas Development Institute (UK), Oxfam International, Practical Action (UK), the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (US), and the Vasudha Foundation (India).
See a 38 minute discussion on Beyond Coal: Scaling up clean energy to fight poverty on youtube: