PPCA Global Summit strengthens international commitment to accelerate coal power phase-out ahead of COP26

Prominent global figures from around the world convened for the first Global Summit of the Powering Past Coal Alliance today to discuss actions to accelerate the pace of the transition from coal to clean energy ahead of the UN Climate Summit COP26 in November.

PPCA Global Summit strengthens international commitment to accelerate coal power phase-out ahead of COP26
PPCA Global Summit strengthens international commitment to accelerate coal power phase-out ahead of COP26

On 2 March 2021, Ministers and key leaders from international organisations, industry and civil society gathered at the PPCA Summit to call for ambitious global action on coal phase-out in the lead up to COP26. The PPCA Summit is co-hosted by UK Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who co-chair the Powering Past Coal Alliance.

UK Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

“I am delighted to co-host this year’s largest global gathering on phasing out coal power. Having gone over 5,000 hours without using coal for electricity last year, the UK is powering forward with the transition away from coal for power generation and into the enormous economic potential of clean technologies. This global summit will unite world leaders and empower other countries to ensure coal-generated energy becomes a distant memory, protecting the planet, spurring clean growth and job creation across the globe, and enabling a greener, healthier future for this generation and the ones to come.”

Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said:

“Phasing out unabated coal-fired power is the first and most important step we need to take to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and work towards net-zero by 2050. By working together – with a growing number of countries, financial institutions, companies and sub-national governments – we are creating a healthier future for our children and grandchildren.”

While a transition away from unabated coal power is well underway, according to IEA, it is moving too slowly to meet the Paris Agreement goals. Accelerating the shift is crucial to keeping global temperature rise to within 1.5°C. It would also help address the global economic crisis and create nine million good new jobs in clean energy.

According to the IPCC and in line with the PPCA declaration, by 2030, coal electricity generation must fall by around four-fifths globally, and entirely in developed countries. Setting an early date for a just, job-rich and complete transition away from coal is the critical first step to reaching the long-term net zero commitments recently adopted by most countries.

A call to accelerate action on coal was made by speakers at the high-level plenary, including:

  • United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
  • COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma
  • Minister Andrea Meza (Costa Rica)
  • Minister Dan Jørgensen (Denmark)
  • Minister Barbara Pompili (France)
  • Minister Svenja Schulze (Germany)
  • Minister Konstantinos Skrekas (Greece)
  • Minister of State Attila Steiner (Hungary)
  • Minister Abdou Karim Sall (Senegal)
  • Minister Adrián Peña (Uruguay)
  • Commissioner Fekadu Beyene (Ethiopia)
  • UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions Michael R. Bloomberg
  • UN High-Level Champion Nigel Topping
  • UN Special Envoy Mark Carney
  • CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All Damilola Ogunbiyi
  • Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa (City of Kyoto, Japan).

Ten new members of the Alliance announced

Ministers Trevelyan and Wilkinson welcomed ten new members of the Alliance:

  1. Hungary
  2. Uruguay
  3. Kyoto City (Japan)
  4. Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ, Canada)
  5. California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS, United States)
  6. M&G Plc (UK)
  7. PensionDanmark (Denmark)
  8. Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP (Netherlands)
  9. National Grid (UK)
  10. Ontario Power Generation (OPG, Canada)

Alongside its growing membership, the PPCA also welcomed new Partner organisations UK Sustainable Investment Finance Association (UKSIF).

Hungary has committed to phasing out coal by 2030, showcasing the growing momentum on meeting the 2030 coal phase-out date among the EU Member States. Uruguay is a leader in building a coal-free electricity sector, producing more than 97% of its electricity from renewable energy sources. As the first PPCA member in Japan, Kyoto City will work together with the Alliance to pave the way to a faster energy transition in the country. New utility and finance members will support the Alliance’s work by sharing practical solutions and best practices to create confidence that the energy transition is possible and beneficial. The new PPCA finance members represent US$1.6tn in assets.

In the dialogue, PPCA members shared experience on how they are working to increase their domestic efforts to create good jobs in a move to clean energy, achieve a just transition and in parallel, support other countries to prioritise clean energy deployment and develop plans to retire coal power plants. Empowering other countries to transition to clean electricity can spur clean growth and job creation, and thus help them build back better from COVID-19.

On the first day of the Summit, the PPCA and Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the Bloomberg Global Coal Countdown, a new online data dashboard that tracks the retirement of coal plant units around the world to showcase momentum as governments progress towards a clean energy future.

The PPCA Global Summit is the year’s largest global gathering on coal power phase-out. In addition to the high-level plenary, it consists of a series of thematic sessions on grid transformation, shifting private finance, ensuring just transition, financing early retirement of coal plants, meeting net-zero targets and planning for future power demand. The Summit will bring together over 800 participants representing national and subnational governments, finance and energy sectors, trade unions and civil society, including from countries where coal phase out represent a challenge, to share perspectives and insights on how to successfully move away from coal.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres, said:

“Phasing out coal from the electricity sector is the single most important step to get in line with the 1.5 degree goal. Today, I am calling on all governments, private companies and local authorities to take three steps. First, cancel all global coal projects in the pipeline and end the deadly addiction to coal. Main emitters and coal users should announce their phase-out plans well before the Glasgow Conference. G7 members should take the lead and commit to this phase-out at the G7 June Summit at the latest. Second, end the international financing of coal plants and shift investment to renewable energy projects. I ask leaders of main emitting economies to announce the end of their international financial support to coal at the earliest opportunity this year. Third, jump-start a global effort to finally organize a just transition, going coal plant by coal plant if necessary.”

German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Svenja Schulze, said:

“In a world that wants to become climate neutral by the second half of the century at the latest, coal-based power is an outdated model. Many businesses are already suffering huge losses because coal is no longer competitive. Investments in renewable energies, however, clearly offer a competitive edge. Today, they are already more cost-effective and create new jobs. A sustainable, low-carbon energy supply that is energy efficient with storage technologies and modern grids also increases independence and strengthens the domestic economy.”

Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities Dan Jørgensen, said:

“The work of the Powering Past Coal Alliance is immensely important in leading the path to a world without coal. We need to dramatically raise our ambitions and push for investments in new green solutions to ensure a global green transition. To accelerate the pace of the transition from coal to clean energy ahead of COP26, we all need to take responsibility now. This initiative from PPCA is a significant step in the right direction.”

French Minister for the Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, said:

“Alongside the EU, France calls for a resolute and just worldwide transformation towards climate neutrality, including a phasing out of coal in energy production and an immediate end to all financing of new coal infrastructure in third countries. At Cop 23, the French government took the commitment to phase out Coal power plants by 2022, and the necessary regulatory tools have been taken to reach this objective.”

Hungary’s Minister of State for the Development of Circular Economy, Energy and Climate Policy at the Ministry of Innovation and Technology Attila Steiner, said:

“Hungary joined the PPCA because we understand that phasing out coal globally requires strong international cooperation. We are ready to share our experiences regarding the implementation of our plans to realize a full transition of our biggest coal region to an economically and environmentally sustainable region by 2030.”

Uruguay's Minister of Environment Adrián Peña, said:

“Uruguay was a pioneer in the decarbonization of its electricity matrix and continues to make important efforts to address mitigation and adaptation to climate change in the energy sector. Through our participation in the Alliance, we reaffirm our commitment to continue generating electricity through clean and renewable sources and we believe that PPCA is an excellent platform to share our experience and good practices.”

U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions and Founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP Michael R. Bloomberg, said:

“Coal remains the largest contributor to climate change and a major source of toxic pollution. Science makes clear that we must move beyond it – fast. At Bloomberg Philanthropies, we’re glad to be a strategic partner to the Powering Past Coal Alliance as we work together to end coal pollution around the world. As we approach COP26, we need governments to continue raising their ambitions in the race to zero emissions, and the Alliance is working with them to do just that.”

CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy Damilola Ogunbiyi, said:

“The energy transition is an energy access story. We cannot achieve the Paris Agreement if we do not achieve universal energy access by 2030. For countries with large access gaps, coal phaseouts must work hand-in-hand with clean energy offers that work to dramatically expand energy access with clean energy. The COP26 Energy Transition Council is focused on this effort and working with countries to make the clean energy offer more competitive than fossil fuels.”

UK High Level Climate Action Champion Nigel Topping, said:

"The shift from coal to clean power provides an opportunity for environmental, economic and heath gains. Addressing the climate crisis. Providing cheap renewable power and green jobs. Avoiding some of the 8 million annual premature deaths from air pollution due to fossil fuels."

General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation Sharan Burrow, said:

“People need jobs: good, climate-friendly jobs with Just Transition. All sectors must transition to stabilise the planet, but we cannot accept stranded people or stranded communities. Transition measures are essential for the ambition and imperative of phasing out the use of unabated coal as part of our energy mix. Workers and their unions are on the frontlines of securing Just Transition plans for coal workers and their communities from Australia to Canada and Spain.”

Mayor of Kyoto City, Japan Daisaku Kadokawa, said:

“Net-zero by 2050 is a goal which we must achieve. To set the trend of phasing out fossil fuels including coal and transition to renewable energy, Kyoto City has made the decision to join the Powering Past Coal Alliance. It is the very first local government to do so in Japan. Kyoto City was the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years. Our history is long, our culture is to live in harmony with nature, and we uphold a tradition to cherish things. We are aiming to achieve a decarbonised society by encouraging the national government and energy suppliers to expand the use of renewable energy.”

Chief Executive of M&G plc John Foley, said:

“We fully support PPCA’s aim to phase out coal, in alignment with the Paris Agreement and our own commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions across our investment portfolio by 2050. As stewards of long term capital we are using our influence to accelerate the transition to a greener, cleaner global economy, working with investee companies to phase out coal by 2030 in developed economies and 2040 for the rest of the world and developing our own range of sustainable investment funds."

Executive Vice-President and Head of Investments in Québec and Stewardship Investing at Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec Kim Thomassin, said:

“Working together towards the decarbonization of our global economy is crucial to limit the impact of climate change. At CPDQ, we firmly believe that investing in sustainable and concrete solutions to this challenge contributes to stronger businesses and communities.”

CEO of PensionDanmark Torben Möger Pedersen, said:

“Phasing out coal-fired electricity and shifting to clean energy is one of the most important steps to tackle the climate crisis. PensionDanmark is proud to support a coal-phase out in 2030 through a just transition and a constructive and active dialogue with relevant stakeholders. We need to make concrete actions towards the UN Climate Summit COP26 in November.”

Duncan Burt, Director of COP26 and Responsible Business at National Grid, said:

“National Grid sits at the heart of the clean energy transition and we’re fully committed to playing our part in the decarbonisation of the economies in which we operate. A core part of that transition is the need for all power grids and governments to end the use of coal in the power sector. We all need to work together across multiple industries, governments, regulators and public bodies to achieve net zero, and we encourage others to join us in supporting the Powering Past Coal Alliance”.

Ontario Power Generation President & CEO Ken Hartwick, said:

“Climate change is the defining crisis of our time and requires an all-hands-on-deck approach to how we fight it on a global scale. In 2014, OPG delivered the world’s single largest climate change action to date when we stopped burning coal for electricity and we want to encourage other jurisdictions to do the same. By empowering other countries to transition away from coal, we not only spur economic growth and job creation but build a cleaner and more resilient world.”

Head of Networks at National Grid Electricity System Operator Julian Leslie, said:

“This year, with COP26 in November, is a defining moment for coal phase-out and climate action, giving a further platform to countries around the world to pursue a path to modern, low-emissions energy systems. Industry, governments and regulators must coordinate to overcome technical barriers related to the integration of clean energy. We look forward to playing a key role in organisations such as the Powering Past Coal Alliance, sharing our knowledge and expertise with stakeholders across the world, and helping to accelerate progress.”

 

 


Notes:

 

For more information, please contact:
Anna Drazkiewicz, Communications Manager,
Powering Past Coal Alliance Secretariat,
anna.drazkiewicz@poweringpastcoal.org,
Tel. 00 32 487 324 562

[1] The PPCA Global Summit is organised in partnership with the PPCA members and partners: the governments of Denmark, Germany, France and the Netherlands, and BNEF, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carbon Tracker Initiative, CCLA Investment Management, Just Transition Centre, National Grid, Pembina Institute, Rocky Mountain Institute and Wilton Park.

More information about the Summit is available at ppcasummit.org

[2] The Powering Past Coal Alliance was formed by Canada and the UK in 2017 to bring together national and subnational governments and the private sector to accelerate the phase-out of unabated coal power. Since then, the Alliance has grown to 123 members who are at the forefront of accelerating real-world action on coal power phase-out.

[3] Coal phase-out progress has been accelerating across the OECD and EU28. 56% (411GW) of operating coal has either retired since 2010, or is scheduled to retire by 2030, including 147GW within members of the PPCA.

[4] Powered by a partnership of leading data and research organizations, the Bloomberg Global Coal Countdown provides an accurate look into global and country-level progress to-date, highlighting the countries that are leading the way and showcasing global momentum toward clean energy. Access the interactive dashboard at www.BloombergCoalCountdown.com.

[5] Kyoto City committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 in 2019, as the first local government in Japan. This has gathered momentum across the country and led to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s announcement on achieving net-zero by 2050 as Japan’s policy in 2020.

CalPERS, the largest defined-benefit public pension fund in the U.S and one of the largest globally, took a leading role in establishing Climate Action 100+ and is the first U.S. financial institution to join the PPCA.

CDPQ has committed to achieving a carbon¬-neutral portfolio by 2050 and has investment in low-carbon assets totalling over CAD 34 B$ worldwide.

Leading international asset manager and asset owner M&G plc has announced it wants to phase out investment in coal in OECD and EU countries by 2030, and the rest of the world by 2040.

PensionDanmark with some 40 bn euro under management is a founding member of the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance and has announced it wants to phase out investments in Coal Power Plants in OECD countries by 2030, and the rest of the world by 2040.

With 2.9 million participants and €492 billion in assets, ABP is one of the largest pension funds globally. It has a comprehensive climate change policy including engagement with electrical utilities via Climate Action 100+.

Ontario Power Generation removed 9000 megawatts of coal production or the equivalent of seven million cars off the road. The company recently released its first-ever Climate Change Plan, with a commitment to achieving net-zero by 2040.

National Grid is committed to a net zero future by 2050 for the networks they operate and is working to help accelerate the wider, global transition in addition to ending the use of coal in the power sector.

UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) has 260+ members and affiliates from the finance industry committed to growing sustainable and responsible finance in the UK.