If you had a trillion dollars to spend on energy, would you invest it in burning coal for electricity? Well that’s exactly what is slated to happen internationally, according to a new report.
The report, published by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and CoalSwarm, explains that coal-generating capacity equal to 1,500 coal plants is either in planning or construction at a valuation of US$981 billion.
Meanwhile in New Zealand, our power industry is mobilising to reverse the decision to end the burning of coal to create power at Huntly, and also actively campaigning against solar. Huntly has been responsible for 43 million tonnes of carbon pollution since 1990 and the industry, including retailers like Meridian who market themselves as clean and green, are pushing to burn coal into the future.
We are unlikely to meet our global safe climate targets with current coal emissions, let alone more pollution spewing out from Huntly’s smokestacks or from the new 1500 coal-fired power stations overseas. Perversely, governments subsidise coal and subsidise fossil fuels in general to the tune of $650 billion annually. Like New Zealand, most countries have woefully inadequate carbon prices that encourage perverse investment like this.
Coal cannot be our future and, for the power bosses looking to burn more at Huntly or the global energy companies looking at spending $1 trillion, it’s not just a potential bad, stranded investment, it’s also a terrible ethical decision.
Globally, that $1 trillion instead could be invested in clean energy – growing jobs, economic development and providing power to the 1.2 billion people without. In New Zealand we can play our bit and get to 100% renewable electricity while keeping the lights on and the bills affordable.