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UK urges global climate deal, halt to funding for overseas coal-fired power

Highlights

UK energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey on Wednesday urged countries to strike a global climate protection deal in 2015 and to halt funding for overseas coal-fired power generation.

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"This week in Warsaw is absolutely critical to getting a climate deal in 2015," Davey said in a statement to the UN climate conference in Poland.

"No-one should leave this conference without the clear understanding and agreement that from here, we must make sure that when we arrive in Paris in 2015 we are ready to strike a deal," he said.

Davey's comments came in the middle of the final week of the annual climate summit with representatives from more than 190 countries meeting under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


Nations aim to strike a fully inclusive global climate deal in 2015, to take effect in 2020, as well as agree short-term actions to cut emissions in the interim.

"The UK will be working as part of the EU, to gain momentum for a deal with a push for a 50% reduction in European emissions. But we will need to see similar ambitions and commitment from other developed and emerging partners before we can sign," Davey said.

The UK will also join the US in agreeing to end support for public financing of new coal-fired power plants overseas, "except in rare circumstances in which the poorest countries have no feasible alternative," Davey said.

When burned, coal emits roughly twice the volume of carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced than natural gas -- putting coal-fired power plants in the firing line for governments and regulators seeking meaningful emissions reductions.

The UK and US will work together to secure the support of other countries and Multilateral Development Banks to adopt similar policies, Davey said.

COMPLETELY ILLOGICAL

"It is completely illogical for countries like the UK and the US to be decarbonizing our own energy sectors while paying for coal-fired power plants to be built in other countries," Davey said.

"It undermines global efforts to prevent dangerous climate change and stores up a future financial time bomb for those countries who would have to undo their reliance on coal-fired generation in the decades ahead, as we are having to do today," he warned.

"Like the US, the UK recognizes that there will be exceptions. We need to take account of new technologies such as Carbon Capture [and] Storage and the very poorest countries where there are no alternatives. But many developing countries will soon find solar and similar energy technologies will become cheaper not just cleaner," he said.

Davey has also pledged GBP50 million ($81 million) from the UK's International Climate Fund to help more than 860,000 people adapt to climate change impacts in the poorest countries.

He called on developing countries to scale up their climate finance commitments.

The International Energy Agency estimates that global coal demand will need to fall by 45% from 2009 levels by 2050, to avoid dangerous climate change.

Highlighting the scale of the challenge, total world coal production hit a record 7.83 billion mt in 2012, up 2.9% from the previous year, according to the World Coal Association.

The fuel provides around 30% of global primary energy demand and generates 41% of the world's electricity, the association said.

The group estimates that the world has 112 years' worth of coal reserves remaining.

This year saw a sea-change in attitudes to financial support for coal-fired power.

In June, US President Barack Obama announced a climate action plan that includes a proposed end to US government support for public financing of new coal plants overseas, except in exceptional circumstances.

In July, both the World Bank and European Investment Bank committed to limits on funding coal-fired power plants.

The WCA sees carbon capture as a key element that could help secure a viable future for non-renewable energy sources.

"Capturing the CO2 emitted by the use of coal and other fossil fuels and injecting it for storage in deep geological formations is the only currently available technological solution that will enable deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions whilst maintaining the energy infrastructure needed for growth," it said.

--Frank Watson, frank.watson@platts.com
--Edited by Jeremy Lovell, jeremy.lovell@platts.com