As the world continues to feel the severe impact of the growing climate crisis, over 400 out of 746 coal companies still plan to expand their coal operations, according to a study released Thursday.
The Global Coal Exit List (GCEL) updated report by environmental research company Urgewald and 30 partner NGOs show that new coal plants under construction in 60 countries are likely to add 579 gigawatts more to current installed coal capacity.
The new update, considered the world’s most comprehensive database of companies operating along the thermal coal value chain, was released before the upcoming Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20 and the United Nations (UN) Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23 to amplify concerns over the expansion of coal operations and investments.
Statistics showed that there are 746 companies and over 1,400 subsidiaries whose activities range from coal exploration and mining, coal trading and transport, to coal power generation and manufacturing of equipment for coal plants.
Out of the 746 parent companies listed on the GCEL, 361 are either running or developing coal power plants, 237 are involved in coal mining and 148 are primarily service companies, which are active in areas such as coal trading, coal processing, coal transport and the provision of specialized equipment for the coal industry.
The listed companies in the study represent 89% of the world's thermal coal production and almost 87% of the world’s installed coal-fired capacity.
- 'Time for patience with coal industry is running out'
Millions of people in more than 100 countries are expected to participate in the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20 to voice their opposition to fossil investments and their support for climate action.
"From Poland to the Philippines and from Mozambique to Myanmar, local communities are challenging new coal projects in the courts and on the streets. And on September 20th, millions of climate strikers from around the world are calling for an end to coal and other fossil fuels. The GCEL shows that the problem of dealing with coal is finite: 746 companies that the finance world needs to leave behind to make the Paris goals achievable," the study revealed.
“Our 2019 data shows that the time for patient engagement with the coal industry has definitely run out,” Heffa Schuecking, director of Urgewald, was quoted as saying.
She explained that while the world’s leading climate scientists and the United Nations have long warned that coal-based energy production must be rapidly phased out, over 400 of the 746 companies on the GCEL are still planning to expand their coal operations.
“It is high time for banks, insurers, pension funds and other investors to take their money out of the coal industry,” she said.
According to the statistics, while the global coal plant pipeline shrank by over 50% in the past three years, new coal plants are still planned or under development in 60 countries around the world, potentially adding over 579 gigawatts to the global coal plant fleet. This represents an increase of almost 29% compared to the current global installed coal-fired capacity of 2,026 gigawatts, the study found.
- 27 companies account for half of global coal-fired capacity
The statistics revealed that China has the highest number of coal companies with 164, followed by India with 87, the U.S. with 82 and Australia with 51 companies.
Out of these companies, Coal India Limited is the world's largest thermal coal producer, accounting for 8% of global thermal coal production.
China Energy Investment Corporation ranked as the second-largest coal producer while the company is the largest coal plant operator with 175,000 megawatts of installed capacity.
Globally, 27 companies account for half of the world's installed coal-fired capacity.
The world’s largest coal plant developer is India’s National Thermal Power Corporation, which plans to build 30,541 megawatts of new coal-fired capacity.
General Electric (GE) is considered one of the largest equipment providers that is involved in the construction of new coal plants in 18 countries.
Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction from South Korea follows GE with its engagement in the construction of eight coal power plants totaling 10.9 gigawatts in South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and Botswana.
- 26 "coal frontier" countries threaten more dependency
The study affirmed that plans for new coal plants lead countries into a cycle of more coal-dependency, with currently 26 "coal frontier" countries part of the coal-dependency cycle.
The 10 countries with the largest coal plant pipelines are China with 226,229 megawatts, India with 91,540 megawatts, Turkey with 34,436 megawatts, Vietnam with 33,935 megawatts and Indonesia with 29,416 megawatts.
Bangladesh ranked sixth in installed coal capacity with 22,933 megawatts while Japan followed with 13,105 megawatts, South Africa with 12,744 megawatts, the Philippines with 12,014 megawatts and Egypt with 8,649 megawatts.
The study found that in the European Union, Poland and Turkey have the highest numbers of coal mining expansion plans.
-China and Japan compete in coal investments overseas
Japan is the country with the highest percentage of coal power expansion projects overseas. Out of 30 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity planned by Japanese companies, 51% are being developed abroad, the statistics showed.
"The country with the largest absolute coal power expansion plans abroad is, however, China. Chinese companies are planning to build new coal plants totaling 54 gigawatts in 20 countries. These account for 24% of the total coal power capacity being developed by Chinese companies," the study said.
Although some financial institutions continue to support coal investments, a growing number have begun announcing dates for a complete phase-out of coal from their investments including KLP, Storebrand, Nationale Nederlanden, Allianz, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Credit Agricole.
Additionally, 26 commercial banks have committed to no longer participate in project finance deals for new coal plants and nine major banks have also committed to ending corporate finance for clients whose coal share of revenue or coal share of power generation is above a designated threshold, according to the study.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya