Coal-fired power generation has come under increasing criticism since the Paris Agreement in 2015, when 195 countries agreed to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The particular emphasis on coal comes as a result of its high carbon intensity which makes it the single largest contributor to climate change; according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 41% of electricity generation globally was from coal in 2014.
Structural trends in technology and energy markets currently indicate a shift towards the phasing out of coal power generation in the near future, particularly among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member states. Similarly, recent reductions in the cost of renewable energy production makes its rapid deployment a viable alternative to coal in emerging economies in South East Asia and other developing regions.
International collaboration can consolidate and accelerate these twin trends, and put the world closer to the goals of the Paris Agreement. The phase out of coal-fired power generation and the transition to clean energy offers multiple benefits to countries and regions in respect to human health, water scarcity, environmental and cultural protection and the sound management of public finances. The transition away from coal does however also require attention by policy makers to manage the impacts on national economies, productivity, workers and communities, as well as the technical energy security challenges of a shift to decentralised electricity generation and flexible grids.
This event will begin a dialogue around creating the conditions for an accelerated but orderly transition from coal in the global economy. It will build an understanding of the policies, experiences and approaches that countries have taken to move to a phase out commitment as the basis for shared best practice and continued mutual encouragement. It will identify how political alignment can be leveraged to further grow the number of countries working to phase out existing coal power plants and how this can be leveraged into assisting emerging economies to pursue alternatives rather than investment in new coal power generation.