Coming Clean: The future of coal in the Asia-Pacific
Sydney, Australia – Despite Asia-Pacific’s unrestrained use of coal — and its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions — a new WWF report finds there is a role for the fossil fuel in a carbon-constrained energy future.
The report, Coming Clean: The Truth and Future of Coal in the Asia-Pacific, released on the eve of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, acknowledges that coal use is an important part of the emerging economies in the region, in particular China and India.
Coal and developing nations
According to the report, coal has a role to play in meeting the region’s energy demands but that it must be reduced to no more than 20% of all energy produced; tempered with the introduction of cleaner coal technologies, specifically carbon capture and storage, and regulated by government policies designed to better protect local environments and communities.
With 88% of the current global increase in coal use coming from the developing nations of Asia, the report says industrialized nations need to assist developing economies to implement low emissions technologies in order to prevent dangerous global climate change.
To do this will require new forms of technology transfer.
Based on independent analyses commissioned by WWF from energy experts across the region, the report finds that the market value of coal does not reflect its toll on human health and the local and global environment.
If these factors were taken into account alternative energy technologies including low-emission coal technologies would be more economic.
Coal and global warming
Coal’s impacts on the region range from the depletion of arable soil, to diminishing clean water supplies and severe air pollution to grave respiratory illness and displaced and disenfranchised communities. But perhaps coal’s greatest threat is its significant contributions to global warming, which stands to unleash potentially cataclysmic environmental impacts.”
“The Asia-Pacific’s coal use is not just a climate change issue but is also a community and local environmental issue" said Ina Pozon, WWF International’s Asia-Pacific Coal Initiative Coordinator and author of the report.
“Coal currently plays a dominant role in developing countries, such as China and India, and it is unrealistic to expect an immediate shift away from coal.”
The report, she adds, provides parameters that define responsible coal use that allow developing countries to continue using this fuel to achieve economic growth, while minimizing its impact on people and the planet, particularly when it comes to global warming.
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