2021 in Review: Looking back at key moments that brought the end of coal closer into sight

This year saw unprecedented progress in the global coal-to-clean transition. The PPCA played a key role in moving the world closer towards “consigning coal to history” at the UN Climate Summit COP26, by elevating the issue of coal phase-out to the top of the global political agenda, encouraging countries and organisations to make ambitious commitments and empowering them by sharing best practises. As the year comes to close, we look back at key moments that defined our success this year.

PPCA team and friends at COP26 in Glasgow, November 2021
PPCA team and friends at COP26 in Glasgow, November 2021

New PPCA members and partners in 2021 –at a glance 

Countries

14Albania, Azerbaijan, Chile, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Mauritius, Montengro, North Macedonia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine, Uruguay
Subnationals9Durban (South Africa), Eastern Wielkopolska, Wałbrzych, Koszalin (Poland), Kyoto City (Japan), New Mexico (USA), Ormoc City, Guimaras and Negros Occidental Provinces (the Philippines)
Financial Institutions17

Amundi, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, California Public Employees' Retirement System, Ethos Foundation, Export Development Canada, Fidelity International,

Generation Investment Management, HSBC, Impax Asset Management, Lloyds Bank, M&G Plc, NatWest, PensionDanmark, SCOR Global Investments, Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP, United Church of Canada, Vancity

Utilities and other businesses7

Capital Power, DTEK, Mott MacDonald,

National Grid, Ontario Power Generation, TransAlta, ZE PAK

Partners4

Climate Investment Funds, European Sustainable Investment Forum, UK Sustainable Investment Finance Association, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

January 2021: PPCA Roundtable on climate risks and finance

  • The then-PPCA co-chairs, Ministers Wilkinson and Trevelyan hosted a virtual roundtable with Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance and finance leaders from North America and Europe to discuss the importance of phasing-out financial support for unabated coal power from climate risk and clean energy investment perspectives.
  • The roundtable strengthened our understanding of how public and private finance sectors can collaborate to accelerate the clean energy transition in key coal transition regions. It also built foundations for expanding PPCA finance membership, which by the end of this year grew to 33 members with over US$17 trillion in assets.

March 2021: PPCA Global Summit

  • The first virtual PPCA Global Summit, hosted by the UK and Canadian governments on March 2-4, significantly strengthened international commitment and cooperation to accelerate coal power phase-out ahead of COP26.
  • With over 1000 attendees and 50 panellists, the Summit was 2021’s largest global gathering on coal power phase-out.
  • The Summit began with a powerful call to action from the UN Secretary-General António Guterres to “end the deadly addiction to coal”, by 2030 in the OECD, and by 2040 in the rest of the world.
  • The Alliance welcomed 10 new members, including Uruguay and Hungary, the city of Kyoto – the PPCA’s first member in Japan, and major electric utilities and global financial institutions representing US$1.6tn in assets.
  • Through a series of six thematic sessions, PPCA members and partners shared their extensive experience and knowledge on topics ranging from coal’s declining competitiveness to grid transformation, shifting private finance from coal to clean energy and financing early retirement of coal power plants.
  • The Alliance and Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the Bloomberg Global Coal Countdown - a new online data resource that tracks the retirement of coal plant units around the world.
  • Watch the summit highlights here:

June 2021: London Climate Action Week

  • On 28 and 30 June 2021, the PPCA hosted two events at the London Climate Action Week (LCAW), adding to the momentum for coal phase out created by COP President-Designate Alok Sharma’s call to “consign coal to history” at COP26, the blockbuster IEA Net Zero Roadmap calling for global coal phase-out by 2040, and the G7 commitment to end coal finance by the end of 2021.
  • The Alliance announced twelve new members and partners, including Spain, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Polish region Eastern Wielkopolska and utility ZE PAK, and several businesses and financial institutions.
  • The remarkable expansion of the Alliance in Europe, as well as the first members in coal-dependent Western Balkans and Poland, cemented the continent’s leadership role in the global coal phase out efforts.
  • The diverse range of new finance and business members, including one of the world’s top asset managers Amundi, demonstrated that the private sector increasingly considered Paris-aligned coal phase-out commitments to be an essential and concrete first step toward meeting net-zero pledges.
  • Watch the event highlights here: 

September 2021: PPCA South Korean subnational members advocacy push

  • In South Korea, PPCA member Chungnam Province hosted its International Conference on Coal Phase-Out focused on building consensus for greater climate action at home and abroad by advancing phase-out of coal power plants.
  • In parallel, four PPCA Korean subnational members representing 80% of the country’s total coal capacity called on their government to set an early coal phase-out date.
  • South Korean membership in the PPCA now totals 8 cities and provinces including Gangwon and Jeollanam provinces as well as Daegu city who joined in 2021. Their continuous efforts will add momentum to an ambitious coal phase-out commitment from the country in 2022.

September 2021: No New Coal Power Compact

  • Chile and Sri Lanka launched the No New Coal Power Compact bringing together a diverse group of governments including Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) members Denmark, France, Germany, Montenegro and the United Kingdom to encourage other countries to commit to stopping new construction of coal-fired power plants by COP26. Since the global summit held in November 2021, the compact has garnered further signatories from Canada, Grenada, Azerbaijan and New Zealand.
  • The compact provides a further step on the pathway for countries who are not yet ready to join the PPCA by allowing them to make an easier pledge in the hope that it will accelerate the end of coal.
  • Watch more here:

November 2021: COP26

  • PPCA advocacy efforts in 2021 culminated at the COP Presidency mainstage event at COP26 on 4 November. This event, which brought together ministers and other prominent global figures from the private sector, cities, regions and international organizations, marked the flagstone event for the Alliance, cementing its role at the forefront of global efforts to “consign coal to history”. 
  • The PPCA and No New Coal Power Compact also provided a driving mechanism to increase momentum on phasing out coal, as identified by the UK’s Coal To Clean Power Transition Statement which included major coal users such as Poland and Vietnam.
  • 28 new members and one partner joined the Alliance, including Ukraine, Chile, Singapore, Mauritius, Azerbaijan, Slovenia and Estonia. The Alliance encouraged several breakthrough coal phase-out commitments that were unthinkable even a year ago, including from countries heavily dependent on coal, such as Ukraine or Chile.
  • PPCA engagement with coal-dependent countries was further strengthened through additional subnational government and utility members from Poland, South Africa, the Philippines and the US, as well as a new partnership with the Climate Investment Funds.
  • PPCA success set a path for others to follow and built the political momentum that we have witnessed at COP26, including with the pledge to phase down coal in the final agreement.
  • Catch our best bits here:
  • The following day saw the PPCA participate in a virtual event bringing together European and international practitioners to share insights and lessons on how to ensure a just transition away from coal at the regional level.

As we head into 2022, we will build upon this year’s achievements and climb further up the ladder in the global effort to transition to clean energy, helping the world embark on a decade of transformative action in line with 1.5°C.