America retires its 200th coal power plant marking a global milestone

Intro

Campaigners in the US, and around the world, are celebrating today as the country marks the shut-down of its 200th coal power plant. The milestone comes after a settlement to retire five Iowa coal power plants. Representing a huge victory for the Beyond Coal campaign, this latest decision means that 40 per cent of the 523 American coal plants in operation just five years ago are now being phased-out. Worldwide, coal continues to fall out of favor as its economic risks, harmful health effects and its impact on climate change have made it a dead man walking. This latest benchmark offers an example to other countries, like the UK and Germany as they pursue an end to coal-fired power. This progress also further isolates laggard nations such as Australia and Japan, that are clinging to a dirty energy future.

Key Points

  • The transition away from dirty fossil fuels is already underway and as the US plans to finalize its carbon pollution rules momentum is building. In the coming weeks the US will finalize the Clean Power Plan which aims to reduce dangerous carbon pollution from power plants over the next 15 years. The fact that Iowa is shutting down coal plants as it leads the nation in wind electricity, employing more than 7,000 wind workers, shows that the transition to clean energy is already underway, creating jobs and improving lives.
  • This latest milestone in the shift away from coal offers an example for others to follow. Representing a shut-down of nearly 40 per cent of US coal plants, the benchmark has been set for other countries, such as the UK and Germany who are also making moves to phase-out coal. With global renewable energy booming, the coal industry in decline, and the call for a fossil fuel phase out growing, the US example should be another warning signal for laggards, such as Australia and Japan, continuing to fight a losing battle against the transition to a future powered by renewables.

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Key Quotes

  • “The days of coal-fired power plants putting Americans at risk are coming to an end. In Iowa and across the country, people are demanding clean air and clean water—and they are winning. Iowa is a leader in America’s transition from coal to renewable energy, and is providing a model for other communities as they demand and realize a 100 percent clean energy future.” – Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club
  • “Every step we take to reduce coal use helps Americans breathe easier, and the 200th coal plant to announce its retirement since the launch of the Beyond Coal Campaign is a great milestone for public health and for the environment. Everyone who has worked hard to help the campaign succeed deserves a lot of credit. Less reliance on coal is the reason why the U.S. has reduced its carbon footprint more than any other country since 2006.” – Michael R. Bloomberg, U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • “You haven’t seen fear until you’ve seen a patient fighting to breathe, and their loved ones powerless to help. After the coal plant in my own community retired, I became very active in the fight for cleaner air across the state line in North Omaha, Nebraska. We urged Nebraska to ‘get in the game’ like Iowa on clean energy, and now Omaha is on the path to tripling its share of clean, renewable energy. I’m proud that Iowa’s clean energy success continues to inspire other communities to take action.” – Patricia Fuller, a retired nurse and lead volunteer with the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign from Council Bluffs, Iowa

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