Coal is a harmful rock in a hard place as fortunes fade


If 2015 was “the year that coal broke”, 2016 is already confirming it’s unfixable. China announced the closure of 1,000 coal mines, while 2015 US coal production was shown to be the lowest in 30 years, as yet another of the country’s major coal players filed for bankruptcy. The coal industry complains it is being “vilified” as “public energy number one”, but fresh research shows the harm new plants would do. Only a few nations now linger at the toxic coal party: Australia is exporting as much coal as it can despite the fact it’s making its citizens sick. India is still banking on coal despite its renewable energy ambition. Poland and Turkey want to burn even more of the black stuff. But with renewables making countries both wealthier and healthier, and a clean energy future indicated at the highest levels, there is no reason to cling onto harmful, volatile fossil fuels. Those countries which do could face legal consequences, as well as dealing with the inevitable damage to their economy, health and community.


Key Points







  • “Smaller oil and gas companies on Aim [London stock exchange] will remain under severe pressure because fundraising in this environment will be testing, and many will have already cut costs to the bone last year with little room for more this year. We expect 2016 to be challenging for the Aim companies.” – Ewan Mitchell, head of analytics at Company Watch 
  • “Low natural gas prices, lower international coal demand, and environmental regulations have contributed to declining US coal production.” – US Energy Information Administration
  • “To the extent that courts perceive climate change as an existential threat, and to the extent they believe the body politic fails to address it, courts may be inclined to rule in the favor of climate activists because otherwise the world will go down the drain — that’s how they might look at it,” – Lucas Bergkamp, a partner at the law firm Hunton & Williams

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