UN climate chief says coal sector must 'change dramatically'

Nov 18, 2013 by Mariette Le Roux
Polish women speak backrounded by of power plant chimneys in Patnow, east of Poznan on December 2, 2008

The UN's climate chief urged the coal industry on Monday to "change rapidly and dramatically" at a contentious coal summit on the sidelines of global climate talks.

Speaking as green protestors clamoured outside, the UN's Christiana Figueres said that the cheap but plentiful fossil fuel came with a hefty—and now intolerable—price.

"While society has benefited from coal-fuelled development, we now know there is an unacceptably high cost to human and environmental health," she said.

"I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone's sake."

Figueres is in Warsaw for the annual round of negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The talks, running until Friday, seek a way to a new, global deal by 2015 on curbing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says coal accounted for 44 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2011, the largest share, and remains the leading source of electricity and heat generation.

Activists and some delegates were angered by Poland's "endorsement" of the two-day coal summit.

The host body, the World Coal Association (WCA), went on the defensive on Monday.

"This is not an attempt to distract from the important work of these (climate) negotiations," WCA chief executive Milton Catelin told delegates.

Indian labourers pile coal at a coal field on the outskirts of Hyderabad on September 5, 2012

The industry "accepts" that the burning of coal contributes to warming and that new technology is needed, he said, referring to CO2 capture and other initiatives.

But, Catelin argued, "the facts tell us that continued economic growth and poverty reduction ... will both require coal."

About 41 percent of global electricity and 68 percent of steel production depended on coal, Catelin said.

The summit brings together some of the world's biggest coal producers and consumers, policymakers, academics and NGOs to discuss the role of coal in the global economy and in the context of , according to the WCA website.

It is being held at the Ministry of Economy, just a few kilometres (a couple of miles) from the National Stadium hosting the climate talks.

Outside the ministry, Greenpeace activists hoisted huge anti-coal banners reading: "Who rules Poland? Coal industry or the people?"

Protesters on the roof waved the national flags of Canada, the US, Japan, Britain, Germany, Brazil and the European Union (EU).

Others wore face masks, standing next to a pair of huge, plastic inflated lungs to highlight the health consequences of coal pollution.

Police used a giant fire engine crane to remove some protesters dangling from the building's facade from climbing cables.

Opening the meeting, Economy Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Janusz Piechocinski insisted that Poland had "with great consistency stuck to its international obligations to climate."

But, he said, "The largest coal deposits in the EU are in Poland, so over the next decade coal will remain an important fuel and can be a guarantor of energy for the entire EU."

According to the International Energy Agency, Poland was the world's ninth-biggest coal producer in 2012 and the 10th biggest producer of electricity from coal and peat.

A number of non-government organisations had urged Figueres to withdraw from addressing the coal summit.

But she stressed on Monday that her attendance was "neither a tacit approval of coal use, nor a call for the immediate disappearance of coal".

"The faces a business continuation risk that you can no longer afford to ignore," she said.

"By now it should be abundantly clear that further capital expenditures on can go ahead only if they are compatible with the 2.0 degree Celsius limit," she said, referring to the warming maximum sought by UN members.

Explore further: 'Coal summit' stokes trouble at climate talks

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NikFromNYC
1.6 / 5 (20) Nov 18, 2013
Obamacare Insurance Rationing 2013: "OK. On the website, I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as — the way it was supposed to. Had I been informed, I wouldn't be going out saying, boy, this is going to be great."

Enroncare Energy Rationing 2016: "OK. On the climate, I was not informed directly that the government climate model would not be working as — the way it was supposed to. Had I been informed, I wouldn't be going out saying, boy, this is going to be a disaster."
NikFromNYC
1.6 / 5 (19) Nov 19, 2013
"An insider's account about top down pressure on jobs data—especially during the months leading up to the presidential election—brings a new level of scrutiny to the reliability of official unemployment rates."

COROLLARY: "An insider's account about top down pressure on climate data—especially during the months leading up to the presidential election—brings a new level of scrutiny to the reliability of official warming rates."

http://nypost.com...-report/
Howhot
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2013
"The coal industry was the greatest source of carbon emissions, contributing 43% to the year's carbon budget, followed by oil (33%), gas (18%), cement (5.3%), and gas flaring (0.6%). Emissions from land use change, such as deforestation and land clearance, are declining." From another Physorg article.

It's all about the coal! It's an industry that needs to be put out of it's miserable existence. The coal mining companies should be fined just for existing. There are better sources of energy now than the 17th century coal industry can provide.

Teabagger politics on issues like coal will be mankind's downfall as we collectively push for extinction.

VendicarE
2 / 5 (4) Nov 21, 2013
"OK. On the website, I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as" - NikkieTard

Why isn't the corporation who produced the faulty software being sued for non-performance and general incompetence?

VendicarE
1.8 / 5 (4) Nov 21, 2013
"An insider's account about top down pressure on jobs data" - NikkieTard

That article ties in quite nicely with another noting a statistical correlation between cheating on tests and a desire to work for the government of India.

I've noted the same thing when it comes to software development. But with software, the cheaters typically profit because it is easy to hide their rule breaking, and because the breaking of rules often results in code that is runs faster and runs properly in most but not all cases.

VendicarE
2 / 5 (4) Nov 21, 2013
"The faster we will implement it, the better." - tWaters

You are going to have some trouble implementing your cold fusion delusion.

Where are the ECat's that Martini and Rossi promised?

They are now almost a half decade overdue.

VendicarE
1.8 / 5 (4) Nov 21, 2013
"Black water shall
elevate thy children to
the heavens. Purify it.
But thou shalt not
combine it in a ratio
greater than one
kikkar to twenty
shekkels, nor shalt
thou burn rocks.
Thus saith the lord."
goracle
1 / 5 (9) Nov 23, 2013
"The coal industry was the greatest source of carbon emissions, contributing 43% to the year's carbon budget, followed by oil (33%), gas (18%), cement (5.3%), and gas flaring (0.6%). Emissions from land use change, such as deforestation and land clearance, are declining." From another Physorg article.

It's all about the coal! It's an industry that needs to be put out of it's miserable existence. The coal mining companies should be fined just for existing. There are better sources of energy now than the 17th century coal industry can provide.

Teabagger politics on issues like coal will be mankind's downfall as we collectively push for extinction.


Ontario has just committed to getting rid of it for electricity production. http://www.theglo...5549963/
The Alchemist
1 / 5 (7) Nov 24, 2013
I've thought the US government was awfully complacent. It keeps the lights on and heat on in its buildings, and streets lights are great, but they could be made dynamic.
Except reducing this would reduce the amount we pay to coal, and the miners, of course.

We have got to get out of this mind set.

Coal is "killing" us, oil is "killing" us, and fracking will "kill" us.
And all because we can get away from a archaic concept.

And we keep hearing this excuse about new technology:
We don't need new technology. We can put windmills one top of our homes, small ones, they don't have to work all the time.
Use natural lighting and store solar for evening lighting.

It is all feasible, and no technological advancement can do much better than we have now.

The Earth is generous, we really do have plenty.
Howhot
not rated yet Nov 25, 2013
@Nik echos the right wing echo-chamber "Obamacare Insurance" talk points for the first post on an article about Coal's impact on the environment. Well, now we know what label to stick you with; @EchochamberNY.