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G7 agree to end use of unabated coal power plants by 2035
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G7 agree to end use of unabated coal power plants by 2035

Ministers from the G7 countries agreed on Tuesday to end the use of unabated coal power plants by 2035 – but left the door open for those heavily reliant on coal to breach the deadline.

After two days of talks in Turin, Italy, they published a pledge to “phase out existing unabated coal power generation in our energy systems during the first half of 2030s” to curb the rise in global greenhouse gas emissions.

The communique marks a key climate milestone for the G7 nations – the UK, US, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan – who had been unable to reach an agreement on phasing out coal after several years of talks.

Italian minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, who chaired the meeting, said: “It is the first time that a path and a target has been set on coal.”

“It is a very strong signal from industrialised countries. It is a big signal to the world to reduce coal.”

The document refers to unabated coal, which leaves room for countries to keep burning coal to generate electricity if power plants are fitted with carbon-capture technology to stop emissions from entering the atmosphere.

It also allows leeway for countries that are heavily reliant on coal, such as Japan and Germany, by offering the option of “a timeline consistent with keeping a limit of 1.5C” of global warming above pre-industrial levels.

The world’s biggest coal power consumers, China and India, have continued to build new coal plants despite warnings from experts that 6% of the world’s coal capacity must shut every year until 2040 to avoid a climate emergency. All coal plants should be shut by 2040 – unless they are fitted with effective carbon-removal technology – if governments hope to limit global heating to within 1.5C.

The G7 agreement has emerged just days after the US Environmental Protection Agency set out new rules that will require coal-fired power plants to either capture nearly all of their climate pollution or shut down before 2040. Coal makes up 16% of the US electricity system, according to the thinktank Ember.

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In the UK, coal-fired power is due to end this year with the closure of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal plant in Nottinghamshire in September. The plant generated just 1% of the UK’s electricity last year.

In Canada and Italy coal power accounted for less than 6% of the generation mix, but it still comprises 32% of Japan’s electricity mix and 27% of Germany’s.

Source: theguardian.com