Less foreign coal is better, but developing countries still need more electricity – a global problem

The European Union, the United States (starting under Biden) and others are campaigning to cut government funding for new foreign coal-fired projects. Credit: Bigstock.
  • Feedback By Philip Benoit (Paris)
  • Inter Press Service

Encouraged by these successes in climate, these governments now need to launch their efforts to provide the massive funding needed to build clean power projects to fight poverty in the developing world.

Worldwide, about 30% of energy sector CO2 Emissions come from coal-fired power plants. Even as various developed countries move to reduce their internal coal emissions to reduce their own coal use, new coal-fired power plants are being proposed in the developing world, often under its huge Belt and Road initiative funded by China.

As China, as well as significantly Japan and South Korea, finance coal factories abroad (providing 90% of the total foreign public sector funding), climate experts fear that these new plants will threaten global emissions reduction efforts.

In light of these concerns, the EU, the United States (starting under Biden) and others are campaigning to stop government funding for new foreign coal-based projects. China’s announcement last month, following similar announcements by South Korea and Japan (as well as the G-7) earlier this month, represents the culmination of a successful international campaign against this funding.

Although there are other sources of funding for coal power plants (by some estimates, large enough compared to China), the decisions of Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul, as well as parallel international efforts between private banks and other financial institutions, will significantly slow new coal power investment in the developing world.

For example, it is estimated that China’s new commitments could affect 44 power projects in Asia and Africa, resulting in a 50 billion cut in investment. Moreover, the United States recently announced that it would oppose any new coal-based projects by the Multilateral Development Bank (MDBs) and cut off another source of potential funding.

And yet this success presents its own challenge, at least for the poorer countries who wanted to benefit from the extra electricity that these coal plants would provide. For example, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that Africa’s power generation will more than double in the next 20 years in normal business conditions and more than triple in high growth conditions.

To achieve this high-growth scenario, about 700 gigawatts would have to be added to new plants in Africa, almost three times the continent’s existing installed generation capacity. Similarly, IEA projects that countries in the ASEAN region (such as Indonesia and Vietnam) need to invest 350 350 billion in the power sector between 2025 and 2030 for their economic development, a figure that rises to 0 490 billion, the agency’s low-carbon scenario.

But will poor countries be able to raise funds for these power investments, especially if foreign funding for new coal plants disappears?

Both the United States and China recently announced their intention to increase funding to help developing countries tackle climate challenges, with Biden seeking to double the মার্কিন 11.4 billion annual US contribution and pledging to stop overseas financing for Shi coal mills. Increase China’s support for.

Unfortunately, there are concerns that poor countries will still not want to, especially if their previous commitments to finance have failed to fully implement, especially the অর্থ 100 billion a year in climate finance that developed countries have pledged to meet by 2020. Developing countries.

To avoid these consequences and enable poor countries to get the extra electricity they need, successful diplomatic efforts through a campaign to increase funding for clean power plants that went to disable public funding for foreign coal projects must be matched and even surpassed. .

This should not only increase inflows from large development finance institutions and their other foreign investment institutions such as the United States, China, the EU, Japan, etc., but also consolidate more private sector investment, both foreign and domestic, in developing countries.

Non-traditional theorists can also play a role as funders (including individuals). In addition, as the United States seeks to shut down any coal projects and drastically reduce other MDB investments in fossil fuel-based power, it and other wealthy nations should increase their shareholder contributions to the bank to give developing countries access to clean electricity.

The rationale for supporting these efforts is not only that the United States, China, the EU, Japan and South Korea are the world’s largest economies (representing two-thirds of global GDP), but they themselves continue to rely on coal plants for electricity to grow their own economies. These coal mills are generating huge emissions that are using normal carbon budgets and leaving less space for power-related emissions from poorer countries.

For example, in 2019, 65% of China’s electricity came from coal-fired power plants that generated 4.9 gigatonnes of CO.2 Emissions (GtCO)2), When the United States emits 1.0 GtCO2 And EU 0.5 GtCO2 By comparison, all of Africa’s coal-fired power plants have produced less than 0.3 GtCO.2.

As a result, there are important equity considerations that support the strong move of these rich countries to support clean electricity investment in poor countries. Although many point to the need for rich countries to reduce their own domestic coal emissions, the focus of this article is not on how these countries choose to run their national power systems, but on what poor countries need and how the rich can help. .

As President Biden has Repeated comments“Climate change is an existential threat to our future.” Completion of investment in new foreign coal-fired plants will help address this risk for the benefit of both the rich and the poor. But poverty is also a threat to existence, although it is one that does not harm everyone. Rather it is a life-threatening danger that primarily targets the poor in the developing world. This is something that rich countries can help deal with.

Developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America need much more electricity to fight poverty. In the interest of climate, rich countries have succeeded in stopping coal financing in the region. These rich countries now need to achieve this by pursuing more ambitious poverty alleviation programs to finance clean energy in the developing world.

Philip Benoit He has 25 years of experience working on international energy issues, including previous management positions at the World Bank and the International Energy Agency. He is currently the Managing Director at Energy and Sustainability Global Infrastructure Advisory Service 2050.

© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal Source: Inter Press Service

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