- Date submitted: 28 Oct 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Submission Document: Download
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The World Coal Association was founded in 1985 and has been working on behalf of the global coal industry for the past 25 years. WCA?s members comprise the world?s major international coal producers and stakeholders. The WCA provides a voice for coal in international environment and energy forums. The World Coal Association has Category II Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and Consultative Status with the UN Industrial Development Organisation. WCA is also an admitted observer organisation with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Access to energy is essential to achieving sustainable development and green economic growth. Efforts to address sustainable development must be supported by international targets on energy access.
Access to modern energy sources is key to sustainable economic and social development
According to the International Energy Agency, coal is expected to provide more than half of the grid-based energy needed to provide electricity to the 1.3 billion globally who currently lack access to it.
As nations develop they seek secure, reliable and affordable sources of energy to strengthen and build their economies ? coal is a logical choice in many of these countries because it is widely available, safe, reliable and relatively low cost.
The world faces a huge challenge in meeting the future energy needs of developed and developing countries. All available sources of energy will be needed to meet this challenge.
If the world is to meet global emissions reduction targets while meeting the ever-growing demand for energy, then advanced coal technologies ? such as high efficiency low emissions power generation and carbon capture and storage must be supported by governments and other international institutions.
In addition to its energy benefits, coal contributes to economies and communities through responsible mining and supporting industrial processes such as steel production and is therefore a key component of sustainable development.
The challenge of energy poverty
The International Energy Agency recently highlighted that there are currently 1.3 billion people worldwide who lack access to electricity (with approximately 85 percent of those in rural areas). The IEA also identifies that without additional dedicated policies to address energy poverty, by 2030 this number will only reduce to 1.2 billion. The IEA also states in its WEO2010 report that to achieve universal modern energy access by 2030 would require an average annual investment of $36 billion between 2010 and 2030.
Given all of this, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is unlikely to be possible without addressing the significant challenges posed by the world?s energy poverty situation.
Yet an obvious absence from the Millennium Development Goals is any specific goal designed to address energy poverty.
Energy and climate ? integrated priorities
The world faces significant challenges in facilitating sustainable development and poverty alleviation in the developing world. Energy plays a key role meeting these challenges.
However an effective response to the legitimate aims of energy security and economic development, including poverty alleviation, must also integrate with global action on climate and environmental concerns.
These issues are inextricably linked. The world?s least developed countries need access to low cost energy, but they are also the most vulnerable to the impacts of policies aimed at reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
As both developed and developing economies continue to grow, the demand for energy will only increase. Secure, affordable and sustainable sources of energy are key to addressing the challenge of energy security and poverty alleviation whilst also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Significantly reducing poverty in developing economies is a necessary first step to reducing greenhouse gases.
Absent this first step, developing economies will not have the capacity to focus their attention on reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
Ensuring secure, affordable and sustainable energy requires a diverse energy mix and coal is a key part of that mix. It is both an essential energy resource for electricity generation and a vital raw material for industrial production eg. steel, chemicals and cement. Coal is vital for long-term sustainable development and can be used in a manner consistent with GHG reduction goals.
International action on energy and development
As economies develop and grow they look for reliable, affordable sources of electricity. Energy also plays a central role in sustainable economic and social development, yet the Millennium Development Goals fail to include energy access as a key target.
The outcome document of the Rio+20 summit must include a commitment to address the world?s significant energy poverty challenges.
Many countries have access to indigenous coal resources and use those supplies to fuel their energy needs. These countries must be supported to use their natural resources consistent with global climate objectives. The IEA says that coal is expected to provide more than half of the grid-based energy needed to provide electricity to the 1.4 billion globally who currently lack access to it.
In order to meet joint sustainable development and greenhouse gas reduction goals, governments and the international community should support action that:
includes a target of universal access to modern energy by 2030 as part of the Millennium Development Goals to promote eradication of poverty through access to affordable, reliable sources of energy, including coal, which support provision of employment, health care and education.
recognising that different countries will meet their energy needs from different sources, promote the deployment of the cleanest and most efficient coal technology available ? including advanced high efficiency, low emission coal-fired power generation and in suitable environments, alternative coal technologies such as underground coal gasification and coal bed methane utilisation.
facilitates the development of CCS technology because according to all credible scenarios rapid and large-scale deployment of CCS in both developed and developing countries is necessary to limit the global temperature rise to less than two degrees.
These priorities can be met by:
The various international development banks providing loans for the deployment of CCS and advanced coal-fired power generation where coal is identified as an efficient means of electricity generation in developing countries. These institutions must also support development of power grids to deliver electricity where it is needed.
Joint action by aid donors and recipients in recognising where energy needs are a key challenge to development and where supporting the deployment of CCS and advanced coal-fired power generation can contribute to the achievement of development objectives.
Financing CCS and advanced coal-fired power generation through the various climate financing mechanisms.
Coal?s role in society
In addition to the important role it plays in meeting the world?s energy needs, the production and utilisation of coal makes a significant contribution to society.
Across the globe many communities benefit from being centres of coal mining. They benefit from the jobs, royalties, infrastructure and other improvements that mining brings; while responsible mining companies, such as those who form the World Coal Association, see mine safety as critical and strive to ensure zero-harm as the key priority for their operations.
Coal also forms a key component of many industrial processes and is a key part of almost 70 percent of the world?s steel production. Steel is a fundamental material for modern life. The manufacture of steels ultimately delivers the goods and services that growing economies demand ? healthcare, telecommunications, improved agricultural practices, better transport networks, clean water and access to reliable and affordable energy. Steel is a vital building block for development ? facilitating economic growth and poverty alleviation
The World Coal Association urges the international community to recognise the essential role energy plays in supporting economic and social development. The international community is also urged to recognise that all sources of energy, including coal, will play a role in achieving energy access targets. Policy frameworks and financial support must be put in place to support the development of advanced coal technologies and CCS alongside other clean energy solutions if the world is to meet development and environmental challenges.