Coal power plant

Governments launch unprecedented initiative to end new coal power

Press release

A group of governments including Sri Lanka, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Montenegro and the UK have announced a No New Coal Power Compact today, aiming to encourage all other countries to commit to halt construction of new coal-fired power plants by the UN Climate Summit COP26 to keep the 1.5-degree Celsius goal within reach.

New York, 24 September 2021: For the first time, a diverse group of developed and developing countries have come together to give impetus to global efforts to end new coal-fired power generation. Their new initiative requires signatories to immediately cease permitting and end new construction of unabated coal-fired power generation projects by the end of the year. These countries are calling upon all other governments to take these steps and join the Compact ahead of the UN Climate Summit COP26 to help deliver on the summit’s ambitious goal to “consign coal power to history”.

The No New Coal Compact responds to the UN Secretary-General’s call for countries to end construction of new coal-fired power this year, as the first step to keep the 1.5-degree Celsius goal within reach and avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change, as well as to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 7 to provide affordable and clean energy.

The announcement made today at the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy in the form of an Energy Compact signals commitment of the signatories to take decisive action to end new coal construction and lead other countries by example – recognising its adverse impacts on climate change and air pollution. Energy Compacts are living documents and other countries are encouraged to join. The group aims to gather the largest number of new signatories as soon as possible. 

The UN High-level Dialogue on Energy is a Secretary-General led Summit discussing energy for the first time in forty years. It recognises the critical role of energy in advancing climate goals, as well as development priorities including COVID recovery processes. 

The countries launching the Compact can advocate for other countries to commit to “no new coal power”, speaking from the strong foundation of their own experience. Sri Lanka and Chile have recently shown leadership in cancelling new coal projects and making political statements that they will no longer pursue new coal power. Denmark, France, Germany, Montenegro and the UK have already cancelled their last coal projects and are now focused on accelerating the retirement of their remaining coal power generation.

The signing countries recognize that countries, workers, and communities in the developing world require support in moving away from coal power generation in a sustainable and economically inclusive way. Among the needed forms of support, UN-Energy, the Energy Transition Council and Powering Past Coal Alliance are there to assist countries that are willing to begin this process. 

Juan Carlos Jobet Eluchans, Chilean Minister of Energy, said:

“We have an ambitious phase-out plan for all coal power plants by 2040. Therefore, we are honoured to co-lead the launch of this No New Coal Power Compact. Today, signing countries call upon all other nations to join this effort ahead of COP26 to deliver on its ambitious goal to consign coal power to history in order to keep the 1.5-degree Celsius goal within reach”.

Alok Sharma, COP26 President-Designate, said: 

"Consigning coal to history is crucial to avoiding catastrophic climate change. I am delighted that the UK is partnering with a diverse group of countries are showing bold leadership to cancel coal through the No New Coal Power Compact, demonstrating the positive impact that countries working closely together can have in generating climate action.

"The cost of clean renewable technologies continues to fall, making coal expensive and uncompetitive. I call on more countries to come forward and sign up to this compact ahead of COP26, and play their part to limit global warming and keep 1.5 degrees alive."

Greg Hands, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth of the United Kingdom, said:

“By signing today’s agreement, the UK and partner nations are sending a clear signal around the world that now is the time to take bold climate action and transition away from coal power in a just and inclusive way. With the UK already leading the way in committing to phase out coal power by 2024, and countries such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Pakistan coming forward with ambitious no new coal power commitments, this new initiative is calling on other countries to follow suit by committing to halt construction of new coal-fired power now – an essential stride towards securing a future that is powered by affordable, reliable, clean energy”.

Svenja Schulze, German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, said:

“For many decades coal guaranteed economic growth and prosperity. Today we know that the continued use of coal heats our climate and thus threatens our planet. It is therefore essential that all countries commit to not building any new coal-fired power plants and to phase out the use of coal as soon as possible. Phasing out coal does not mean that we have to give up economic development and prosperity. With renewable energies we do have a new, sustainable, climate-friendly and cost-efficient driving force that endangers neither our health nor our planet.”

Dan Jørgensen, Danish Minister of Climate, Energy and Utilities, said:

“Development of new coal-fired power plants must stop this year to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. That is why I am thrilled that we stand together with fellow ambitious countries with the aim to end construction of new coal-fired power plants. This energy compact is an important step on the way for a complete phase-out of coal power and consigning coal power to history at COP26. I encourage all governments to join this very important initiative.”

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.”

Michael R. Bloomberg, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, said:

“Ending coal-fired power is a global imperative – for the climate and public health – that will create good-paying jobs around the world. At Bloomberg Philanthropies, we’ve already helped retire over 65 percent of U.S. coal plants and over half of Europe’s, too. As we continue to expand that work, it’s encouraging to see more countries and regions raise their ambitions and lead the way forward. We’re glad to support the No New Coal Power Compact in its work to improve people’s lives and fight climate change by accelerating the end of coal, worldwide.” 

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Divya Kottadiel, SEforALL: