UK to halt funding for coal power in developing countries

The National Stadium in Warsaw where the international climate change talks are being held

At this week’s international climate change talks in Warsaw, UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey urged world leaders to prepare for action on climate change. Davey also announced that the UK will join the United States in agreeing to end support for public financing of new coal-fired power plants overseas, except in rare circumstances.

In June, the Obama administration unveiled its Climate Action Plan, which includes a commitment to mobilize clean energy investments to the developing world and help “accelerate their transition to a green, low carbon economy.” In October, the U.S. Treasury Department then announced the U.S. would not have a part in coal projects financed by Multilateral Development Banks.

This year, the World Bank has also agreed to a new energy strategy to limit the financing of coal-fired power plants to “rare circumstances.” To that end,  the World Bank said it will amend its lending policies for new coal-fired power projects, restricting financial support to countries that have no feasible alternatives to coal.

 “It is completely illogical for countries like the UK and the US to be decarbonizing our own energy sectors while paying for coal-fired power plants to be built in other countries,” said Davey. “It undermines global efforts to prevent dangerous climate change and stores up a future financial time bomb for those countries who would have to undo their reliance on coal-fired generation in the decades ahead, as we are having to do today.”

“Like the US, the UK recognizes that there will be exceptions. We need to take account of new technologies such as Carbon Capture Storage and the very poorest countries where there are no alternatives. But many developing countries will soon find solar and similar energy technologies will become cheaper not just cleaner”.

Davey also pledged £50 million (US$81 million) from the UK’s International Climate Fund to help more than 860,000 people adapt to what he said were the increasing impacts of dangerous climate change on the world’s poorest countries. He then called on other developed nations to similarly scale up their climate finance commitments.

Through this funding the UK will provide grants to vulnerable communities to help them improve water management, irrigation and water supply infrastructure; invest in flood protection and drought resistant crops, and develop better weather forecasting and early warning systems.

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