Dear Members of the Powering Past Coal Alliance:
In this time of unprecedented upheaval and uncertainty, there are immediate urgencies that must take priority to address the COVID-19 situation. The impacts of the global pandemic will be far-reaching and long-lasting, and we are all adjusting our plans to take this into account. At the same time, we must not lose sight of the need to advance ambitious climate action and we must keep working together to continue to address this challenge.
As we enter a new decade, it is clear that the fight against climate change is at a pivotal moment. The impacts of a warmer world are being felt globally, especially in poor and vulnerable communities. Experts warn that we must redouble our efforts to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Youth are calling for urgent action on behalf of future generations.
The Powering Past Coal Alliance has emerged as a leading force for accelerating the transition to a clean energy future. We have all committed to eliminating unabated coal-fired electricity in a sustainable and economically inclusive way, a prerequisite to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. Now is the time for increased ambition globally.
Together, we have made impressive progress including the following:
- Now over 100 strong and growing, the Alliance is recognized as a key driver of the global energy transition dialogue, and has influenced countries’ plans for the phase-out of coal.
- Subnational governments, from cities and states to provinces and territories, are stepping up as inspiring leaders, especially in regions where coal is still a major source of power.
- Through strategic partnerships and taskforces, the Alliance has mobilized an extensive and diverse network of practitioners to act on coal financing, grid modernization, and a just transition for affected communities.
- The Alliance has cemented its global presence, bringing ministers, and business and civil society leaders to preeminent meetings shaping the world’s response to the climate crisis.
Momentum is building. Thirty-five percent of the coal capacity within the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is now scheduled to close. Global electricity production from coal decreased by an estimated three percent in 2019, the largest reduction on record. The need for rapid coal phase-out is now a fixture in climate change discussions, even championed by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, in his call for no new coal by 2020.
Our work has only just begun. Emissions from existing coal plants are enough to increase global temperature beyond the Paris Agreement targets, and yet new coal power plants continue to be built all over the world. As the Alliance enters its third year, its mission has never been more relevant and urgent. We write to you now, as co-chairs of the Alliance, to set out three critical priorities in the lead up to the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) in 2021.
First, we must continue to build a vibrant and diverse membership in the Alliance. This includes OECD countries demonstrating leadership by implementing ambitious coal phase-out timelines. Our collective knowledge and experience is a valuable asset, and the breadth and diversity of our membership is what gives us strength, credibility, and power for change.
Second, we must deepen our engagement with coal-intensive economies—particularly in the global south—to develop partnerships and climate financing approaches that expand the range of clean energy options these countries can access and deploy. This goes hand in hand with mechanisms, resources, and support for a just transition in affected communities.
Third, we must aggressively phase out international coal finance, both public and private. To this end, we must continue to champion the Alliance’s Finance Principles—a powerful commitment to end coal finance on timelines consistent with the Paris Agreement targets. This is not just critical for climate action; it is also good business sense.
Under the United Kingdom’s COP 26 presidency, we have an opportunity to focus our efforts and press for greater global ambition. Our challenge to you, as members of the Alliance, is to stand with us and take concrete action, as you are able, to advance these priorities.
This will be a year that is long remembered. Let us also make it a defining moment for coal phase-out and climate action.
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, P.C., M.P, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada
The Right Honourable Kwasi Kwarteng, M.P., Minister of State for Business, Energy, and Clean Growth, United Kingdom