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United States Joins Global Coalition to Phase Out Coal Power

by Anna

In a significant move to address climate change, the United States has committed to phasing out coal power plants, joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance alongside 56 other nations. The announcement was made by U.S. Special Envoy John Kerry, signifying the Biden Administration’s commitment to not building new coal plants and gradually phasing out existing ones.

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While no specific date was provided for the phase-out of existing coal plants, other regulatory actions and international commitments by the Biden Administration had already indicated a goal of achieving a coal-free energy sector by 2035.

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John Kerry emphasized the need to accelerate the global phase-out of unabated coal to strengthen economies and build more resilient communities. The first step, he stated, is to cease the construction of new unabated coal power plants.

Economic factors have been driving the closure of coal power plants across the United States, with no new coal facilities in development. The declining competitiveness of coal against cheaper natural gas and renewable energy sources has played a pivotal role in the industry’s transformation.

As of October, coal accounted for just under 20% of U.S. electricity, a significant decrease from previous years. The move away from coal is crucial in addressing climate change, as coal-fired power plants are major contributors to heat-trapping carbon emissions. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal produces approximately 211 pounds of carbon dioxide per million BTUs of energy, significantly higher than natural gas and gasoline.

The decision to join the Powering Past Coal Alliance underscores the United States’ commitment to encouraging other nations, particularly major coal consumers like China and India, to transition away from coal. The alliance, initiated six years ago, gained seven new members on Saturday, including the United States, the Czech Republic, and the Dominican Republic.

Climate analyst Alden Meyer of the European think-tank E3G noted that the U.S. commitment sends a powerful international signal and aligns with efforts to address the global challenge of reducing carbon emissions from coal. The move reflects the Biden Administration’s dedication to aligning energy policies with climate goals and fostering international cooperation to achieve a more sustainable and cleaner energy future.

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