U.N. Climate Chief: Coal Industry Reserves Should Be Grounded For Life

December 13, 2013- The United Nation's chief climate diplomat, Christiana Figueres, speaking on the sidelines of a recent U.N. climate conference in Poland, told a number of coal company CEOs that their industry needs to radically curb emissions of greenhouse gasses that are warming the planet, diversify toward cleaner energy sources and leave most of the world's remaining coal reserves in the ground.  

"The world is rising to meet the climate challenge as risks of inaction mount, and it is in your best interest to make coal part of the solution," Figueres said in a recent Associated Press (AP) article, "UN Climate Chief Urges Coal Industry To Leave Remaining Reserves In The Ground," on the Huffingtonpost.com.

AP reports that currently Poland generates some 90 percent of its electricity from coal and quotes Polish Economy Minister Janusz Piechocinski as saying coal must be a part of talks on reducing CO2 emissions, adding, "You cannot have a low-emissions energy transformation without talking about coal, because it's the second-biggest energy source in the world."

The AP article points out that according to the International Energy Agency, coal accounts for less than 30 percent of the world's energy supply but more than 40 percent of energy emissions.

Figueres noted the role coal has played economic development since the industrial revolution, but added that it's come at "an unacceptably high cost to human and environmental health."

Figueres called for closing aging, high-polluting coal plants and said, "New plants should implement technologies that allow for emissions to be trapped before they are released into the atmosphere," adding, "But to bring down CO2 emissions to levels that would avoid dangerous levels of warming, most of the existing coal reserves must be left in the ground."

Figueres said, "Some major oil, gas and energy technology companies are already investing in renewables, and I urge those of you who have not yet started to join them."

The AP article on HuffingtonPost.com notes that while U.S. coal emissions have declined, they are growing fast in both China and India.

Read the full HuffingtonPost.com post here.
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