Coal use continues to rise despite recent announcements that development banks will no longer fund the technology
For those concerned about the impact of coal-burning power plants on the world’s environment, the good news seems to have been arriving thick and fast lately.
In mid-July, the World Bank announced it was significantly scaling back funding for coal-fired power stations due to concerns about emissions and global warming. In future, said the bank, it would limit such financial assistance to “only rare circumstances.” Then the US Export-Import Bank announced it had decided not to support funding for a multi-million dollar coal-fired power plant in Vietnam.
A few days later the European Investment Bank – the world’s biggest public bank – followed the World Bank’s lead, introducing new lending criteria which, if properly implemented, would rule out future financial support for lignite and so-called “dirty coal” power plants. There were also indications the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development could be bringing in coal-lending restrictions.
But, as a pessimist might say, every silver lining has a dark cloud attached to it.
A big test of the World Bank’s resolve will likely be made early next year when it will decide whether to give funding guarantees to a highly controversial power plant using “dirty” coal in Kosovo.
The European Investment Bank’s new criteria on coal lending – tied to specified limits on fossil fuel power plant emissions – have been criticized as being too generous to polluters, while the U.S. Ex-Im Bank continues to back coal-fired power stations in many parts of the world.
And then there’s the bigger picture: The world is using coal for energy generation like never before, and projections are for consumption to grow by at least a third by 2040, possibly by a half if the worst case scenarios are fulfilled.
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