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G7 Countries to Divest from Coal by 2035 & a Peek into Weather Forecasts.

Read more in the May 3 edition of Invert Insights.

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This week energy and climate ministers from G7 countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US — pledged to shut down their coal-fired plants in the first half of the 2030s and to work with other countries and the financial sector to end the approval of new coal-fired power plants “as soon as possible.” Given that Germany and Japan’s coal-fired power plants produce more than ¼ of their total electricity, the deal also includes the caveat that countries could also opt for a date consistent with keeping a limit of 1.5°C global temperature rise within reach.

This pledge represents a monumental announcement in support of global decarbonization.

Here’s a look into the impacts of divesting from coal:

Combined, the G7 countries represented roughly 12% of the world’s coal consumption and in 2022, the US was the 3rd largest consumer of coal globally, with Japan following in 4th place. Germany ranked 8th, Italy & Canada ranked 22nd and 23rd, and the UK ranked 30th. 

Chart: World coal consumption, 1978-2020

Even while the negative effects of fossil fuels on our planet have been well documented for decades, 2022 and 2023 still broke records for the use of coal globally; and coal still supplies just over a third of global electricity generation even though it is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. 

Chart: Primary energy consumption by source

And per capita, the Electricity and Heat sector which includes power generation, transportation, industrial processes, and residential and commercial heating is currently by far the largest emitter globally of CO2.

Per capita C02 emissions by sector, World, 2020

This step forward comes at a pivotal time in climate action as forecasts for the upcoming months exemplify the effects of climate change on global citizens.

This week, climate scientist Michael Mann & his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania shared their forecast for the upcoming hurricane season. They predict a record-breaking 33 named storms for the 2024 North Atlantic hurricane season making it the highest count ever projected in over 10 years of their analysis. Mann shares ‘the activity is substantially driven by ever-warmer conditions in the tropical Atlantic tied to large-scale warming’.

This year’s predictions are influenced by particularly high sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic Main Development Region, which, as of this month, are recorded at more than 1.9°C above average according to NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch and incorporates the anticipated development of moderate La Niña conditions.

Similarly, Natural Resources Canada is predicting above and well above average severity of forest wildfires this season for most of Alberta & Saskatchewan and large parts of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Northwest Territories, and Yukon. Last year approximately 15 million hectares burned which is over seven times the historic national annual average and caused destruction and havoc across the country. For the first time ever, Canada was named the most polluted country in North America in 2023 with most cities exceeding WHO guidelines for air quality.

Read more about the latest G7 meeting outcomes here.

Invert Insights.

💡 This announcement serves as a statement to countries globally that now is the time to begin meaningful progress towards global decarbonization. 

💡 Divesting from coal power encourages investment in renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. These sources are cleaner, more sustainable, and increasingly cost-competitive, driving innovation and creating new job opportunities in the renewable energy sector. 

💡 Coal mining and combustion can have significant negative impacts on ecosystems, including habitat destruction, air & water pollution, and biodiversity loss. Countries can better preserve natural environments and ecosystems simply by divesting from coal power.

Want to keep reading? Check out the latest Invert Insights.