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Even ‘most efficient’ coal puts global climate goals out of reach – report

Published: 14/04/2016

Joint press release by Ecofys and WWF

Brussels, Belgium, 14 April 2016 - Event the most efficient coal plants are not compatible with the global climate change goals, a new study reveals. As world leaders prepare to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change next week, a report from Ecofys published today shows that any coal-fired power generation will take the world off course from the internationally agreed target of keeping temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
“The future of coal-fired power plants, even of ‘efficient’ ones, looks bleak due to the drastic CO2 emission reductions in the power sector that are needed to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C, let alone the 1.5°C limit agreed in Paris,” commented David de Jager, Principal Consultant at Ecofys.
“This report discredits claims from the coal industry and governments such as those of Japan, Germany, South Korea, Australia and Poland that efficient coal plants are compatible with climate action. It is clear that in a post-Paris world, there is quite simply no role for coal, however ‘efficient’,” said Sebastien Godinot, Economist at WWF’s European Policy Office, which commissioned the report.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), emissions from the global electricity sector need to rapidly reduce and be close to zero by 2050 in order to stay well under 2°C.
Even if all coal plants used the most efficient available technology – so-called ‘high efficiency low emissions’ (HELE) technology – the sector’s emissions would still be over those levels, the Ecofys study, ‘The incompatibility of high-efficient coal technology with 2°C scenarios’, shows.
WWF concludes that governments need to end public financial support for coal immediately, and phase out all coal plants by 2035 in OECD countries and 2050 globally to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
“With the G7 meeting in Japan, some of the biggest coal nations have a unique opportunity to begin to phase out coal subsidies and coal use”, said Godinot.
This conclusion was reached through an assessment of scenarios from the IPCC [1] and IEA[2]. Currently, 2,300 new coal power plants - 1,400 GW of capacity – are planned worldwide.

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[1] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 5th Assessment Report.
[2] International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2015.

For further information, please contact:

Sarah Azau
Climate & Energy Communication and Media Officer
WWF European Policy Office
Phone: +32 2 743 88 06 / Mobile: + 32 473 57 31 37
Website: Twitter: @WWFEU

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Established in 1984 with the mission of achieving “sustainable energy for everyone”, Ecofys has become the leading expert in renewable energy, energy & carbon efficiency, energy systems & markets as well as energy & climate policy. The unique synergy between those areas of expertise is the key to its success. Ecofys creates smart, effective, practical and sustainable solutions for and with public and corporate clients all over the world. With offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom, Ecofys employs over 200 experts dedicated to solving energy and climate challenges.           
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