While countries like Australia and Japan are keen to gamble their economic and political futures on coal, the US, China, Germany and many others have recognised that promoting coal is like putting lipstick on a zombie, and are running away from it before it devours their futures. There is simply no space for coal in a carbon constrained world.
It is in structural decline, and the window to abandon it and save the world from irreversible climate change is closing. Banks need to, and are, abandoning coal projects; massive unfunded liabilities are emerging from coalfields; billions in value write-downs are pushing the sectors of the industry towards the abyss; and mines are for sale at losses.
The coal industry will not disappear overnight, but there is little doubt it is in terminal decline, and with its back against the wall it is getting desperate. Indian coal conglomerate Adani has been busted fabricating job and royalty figures in a desperate attempt to get its vast Carmichael mine off the ground in Australia, while US coal giant Peabody Energy’s billion dollar losses has seen it turn to faking social media support for a mendacious PR campaign to reposition its dirty product as a “moral” choice for solving energy poverty. Neither have had much success, as coal is not cheap, it is absolutely not moral, and curbing its emissions will save thousands of lives.
The G20 in Turkey is a pivotal moment for this global transition. Despite the international developments on coal, Turkey is emerging as one of the biggest coal battlegrounds in the world. There are more than 80 coal projects in Turkey at various stages of planning and approval.
Turkey is standing at a fork in the road and is largely symbolic of the stark choice the world is faced with – a continued use of coal and the development of new coal mines, versus a seamless transition to clean energy use. The decisions made by G20 member countries are highly crucial in supporting this decision, drawing international focus on Turkey’s current proposed coal-based energy policy.
The G20 in Turkey, taking place just days before the UNFCCC #COP21 in Paris, plays a critical role in the politics and process before this pivotal gathering of nations to decide on the short and long term future of climate change action and policy.