Coal plant closures need to be ‘radically accelerated’ to meet climate change, report finds

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Coal plants can’t close fast enough to meet United Nations’ climate goals, according to a new report released Wednesday.

The Washington-based environmental think tank World Resources Institute said in its progress report on climate change mitigation efforts that drastic action needs to be taken to close coal plants faster to meet the climate targets outlined in the latest U.N. climate assessment.

“The research finds that we are missing the mark, in almost all cases,” the report says.

“Despite encouraging progress in some areas such as the uptake of renewable energy, in other areas only extraordinary action can get us back on track,” it concludes.

Although all existing coal plants worldwide are at some stage in the process of retirement, the pace of those closures needs to be “radically accelerated” to meet the U.N. climate panel’s most recent climate assessment, according to the progress report.

The World Resources Institute concludes that insufficient progress is being made to promote electric vehicles, implement carbon pricing schemes like carbon taxes, increase public transportation, and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent climate assessment calls for renewed efforts to stop the Earth from warming 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.

The intent of the 60-page progress report is to give governments and industries a clear roadmap toward achieving the 1.5-degree goal.

In order to do that, however, greenhouse gas emissions — blamed for the increased global warming — need to peak by the end of 2020.

The think tank says reaching that peak emissions target will keep the world on track to reduce warming at the lowest cost.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg New Energy Finance released its 2019 Fact Book on Wednesday, which showed coal retirements in the U.S. reached two historic milestones.

Coal’s contribution to the power generation mix fell to 27 percent, which the Bloomberg energy research arm said was the lowest level the resource has been in the post-World War II era.

In addition, a staggering 13 gigawatts of existing coal plants announced or completed closure, which the Fact Book called the second most in U.S. history.

Most of the coal plants are being replaced by natural gas due to the shale boom.

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