Coal generates about 41 per cent of world electricity and is likely to overtake oil as the main source of energy by 2020

Stop foreign aid being used for coal power says Davey

The UK has joined efforts to prevent foreign aid from being used to build coal-fired power stations in poor countries.

Under the initiative, the UK will join the United States in voting against any proposals by multilateral development banks (MDBs) to fund such projects and seeking sufficient support from other countries to ensure they are blocked.

The only exception will be cases where there was a "compelling" poverty-reduction case in the very poorest states, no economically-feasible alternative was available and there was a credible plan to move to greener energy.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said it made no sense to help create highly-polluting facilities overseas while cutting carbon emissions at home and, while there has been no direct UK funding of foreign coal-fired power stations since 2002, taxpayers' money has continued to be used to fund more polluting energy plants via MDBs.

Davey made the announcement at the latest round of international climate change talks in Warsaw, Poland, saying: "It is completely illogical for countries like the UK and the US to be decarbonising our own energy sectors while paying for coal-fired power plants to be built in other countries.

"It undermines global efforts to prevent dangerous climate change and stores up a future financial time bomb for those countries who would have to undo their reliance on coal-fired generation in the decades ahead, as we are having to do today.

"Like the US, the UK recognises that there will be exceptions. We need to take account of new technologies such as carbon capture storage and the very poorest countries where there are no alternatives. But many developing countries will soon find solar and similar energy technologies will become cheaper not just cleaner".

US president Barack Obama included an end to Washington's support for public financing of new coal plants in the world's poorest countries in his climate action plan announced earlier this year.

The World Bank has agreed to halt funding in all but "rare circumstances", the European Investment Bank has introduced tougher emissions standards and Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden signed a joint declaration with the US in September.

And on Monday, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres told a coal summit on the side-lines of the Warsaw conference that the industry had to change "rapidly and dramatically" to limit high pollution and carbon emissions.

She urged the industry to "leave most existing reserves in the ground", to shut inefficient plants and to speed development of carbon capture and storage technology CCS, which has so far proved too costly for wide use.

The World Coal Association (WCA), co-hosting the conference with the Polish government, says the world cannot abandon coal, which generates about 41 per cent of world electricity and is likely to overtake oil as the main source of energy by 2020.

Worldwide, there are plans for almost 1,200 coal-fired power plants to be built, according to the World Resources Institute think-tank.

US climate envoy Todd Stern said broad coal use was "not going to change overnight", adding: "The most important technology which can provide a longer-range future for coal in a low-carbon world is CCS.”

Recent articles

Info Message

Our sites use cookies to support some functionality, and to collect anonymous user data.

Learn more about IET cookies and how to control them