Coal power plant

Countries commit to No New Coal, invite others to join them in fight against climate change


In an unprecedented show of support in the fight against climate change, a group of governments including Sri Lanka, Chile, Montenegro, Denmark, the UK, France and Germany have committed to halting construction of new coal-fired power plants.

These seven UN Member States launched a No New Coal Energy Compact at the UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy on 24 September. Importantly, they also issued an open call for other Member States to join their Energy Compact – specifically by committing to immediately cease permitting and ending new construction of unabated coal-fired power generation projects by the end of the year.

The UN Secretary-General has called for countries to end construction of new coal-fired power and the IEA’s Net Zero Roadmap clearly shows that to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 development of new coal-fired power plants must stop this year. Both developed and developing countries need to commit to a coal phase-out if the world is to achieve both the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goal 7 – affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.

Damilola Ogunbiyi, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO, Sustainable Energy for ALL, and UN-Energy Co-Chair, said:

“This Energy Compact responds directly to the Secretary-General’s call for No New Coal. We are especially encouraged by the leadership of countries that continue to have growing energy demand and are committed to advancing development in their countries with more sustainable sources of energy. I encourage countries around the world to commit to Energy Compacts and for a just, equitable and inclusive energy transition.”

The No New Coal Energy Compact represents an opportunity for all countries to unite around a coal phase-out. The compact is a voluntary commitment made by the seven Member States to UN-Energy, with the possibility of additional countries joining. All Energy Compacts have an annual reporting requirement, with progress monitored and reviewed by UN-Energy.  
The new Energy Compact is yet another piece of good news in the fight against climate change emerging from this year’s UN General Assembly. Earlier this week, China announced that it will no longer build coal-fire projects abroad.

SEforALL recently published a Coal Power Finance in High-Impact Countries knowledge brief that showed that Chinese state-owned institutions were among the world’s largest investors in coal power in countries with major electricity access deficits. But this week China’s leader Xi Jinping stated that "China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.”

Both the No New Coal Energy Compact and China’s expressed intentions signal a shift away from a reliance on coal for closing electricity access gaps in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa. Instead, commitments to clean energy will help developing countries build their economies and improve people’s livelihoods, while avoiding the heavy emissions associated with fossil fuels.

Many clean energy commitments were announced in the form of Energy Compacts, numbering over 150 submissions during the High-level Dialogue on Energy.  SEforALL will continue to support the development of these compacts in the years to come.