The Politics of Coal in the Context of Climate Policy and Social Justice
The conference the run-up to the 24th UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, took place from November 29-30, 2018 at MCC, Berlin.
In the run-up to the 24th UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, the challenges of a global energy system transformation were on the agenda of the coal conference 'Politics of Coal'. The participants of the international conference at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) discussed, in particular, which policy instruments can be used to make the turning away from coal socially acceptable.
Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of MCC
The first Session, dealing with competing narratives for future energy systems started with a keynote by MCC Director Ottmar Edenhofer on “Coal and Climate Change Mitigation”, emphasizing the necessity of phasing out coal if climate targets are to be achieved.
At the same time, despite the following positive global welfare implications, certain stakeholders like workers or energy users might lose from phasing out coal and need to be considered and supported to ensure a just transition. Here, Ottmar Edenhofer showed how a just transition can be financed through CO2 taxes, leading to significant revenues that could be used to cover parts of public investment needs everywhere in the world.
Beth Child, UK Government (Department of Business, Environment and Industrial Strategy): The Powering Past Coal Alliance
Beth Child stressed the global challenge to phase out coal and introduced the Powering Past Coal Alliance: Coal plants make up one-third of global energy-related CO2 emissions today. The members of the Powering Past Coal Alliance are committed to sharing skills, experience and best practice to support the transition from unabated coal. Here, members also commit to adopting practical initiatives including clean energy plans and targets.
Vera Scholz (GIZ): International perspective from development cooperation
Vera Scholz presented an international perspective on just transition with an emphasis on development cooperation.
Nick Robbins (LSE): Financial Perspective
Nick Robins continued with a presentation on “Finance and the end of coal: Politics, climate and social justice” in which he demonstrated different ways forward for financial institutions, including an Investor guide advising why and how responsible investors can connect environmental and social dimensions of the transition.
Svenja Schulze (Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety: Just Transition – Unser Weg zu einer sozial-gerechten Umsetzung des Parisabkommens
Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, gave an exciting speech on „Just Transition – Our way to a socially just implementation of the Paris Agreement“. She called for a well-planned, socially acceptable coal exit and introduced the German coal commission that is working on a successful structural change. Apart from this, she stressed the importance that our overall goal must be a world in which the energy supply is not only climate-neutral, but also safe, clean and affordable.“
Panel: How to reconcile optimism regarding renewables with continued build-up of coal-fired capacities? Ottmar Edenhofer, Beth Child, Vera Scholz, Nick Robins
Afterwards three country specific examples were given by Rohit Chandra on how coal-based power generation continues to dominate India’s power mix despite the enormous potential of solar power, Frank Jotzo on Australia' coal transition, and Andreas Löschel on the status of the German energy transition and its monitoring process as well as different pathways for phasing out coal.
The first conference day ended with a Video Keynote from Lawrence H. Goulder on Confronting the Climate Challenge: Policy options for the US.
Text by Sarah Beyer