Strange bedfellows: The IEA Chief's curious support for India's use of coal comes even as the chief of the UN is pleading with nations to end their toxic addiction to fossil fuels | Photo: Times of India

IEA chief supports India’s use of coal, calls for international support for exit

The chief of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, endorsed India’s plans for continued use of coal at a leadership dialogue on the grounds that developing nations cannot alone be asked to sacrifice several million jobs and economic growth for a problem that was essentially created by developed economies. The comments are an unusual show of support from the IEA, which recently signed an MoU with the Indian government to “strengthen cooperation in global energy security, stability and sustainability”, and essentially backs statements by the country’s home minister that envisioned coal playing a major role in India’s target to become a $5 trillion-economy by 2025. 

Birol also reiterated that global financial support was necessary for countries to gradually move away from coal — which developing nations have long demanded. However, the show of support comes at a time when the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has passionately pleaded with countries to step up their transition to renewable energy. 

New report finds Japanese banks largest financiers of coal, Chinese banks largest underwriters

A new report released by a coalition of NGOs found that Japanese banks are the largest financiers of thermal coal projects around the world — with $22 billion in financing meted out in the past two years, while the largest underwriters were from China, US, Japan, India and the UK, in that order. The report also found that together global institutional investors hold $1.03 trillion in thermal coal companies, with US investors holding the lion’s share at 58%. However, while there is no word on its $85 billion worth of exposure to thermal coal, BlackRock recently asked oil and gas firms to declare their emissions or face divestment. Also Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) may soon stop financing all new coal projects as pressure mounts on Japanese banks to move away from the fuel. 

New technology aims to produce 75% cleaner aviation fuel from non-recyclable plastic waste

A new plastics-to-fuel technology developed by London-based Clean Planet Energy claims to convert one million tonnes of non-recyclable plastic waste per year into aviation fuel — termed Clean Planet Air — that will emit 75% less CO2. The process will involve conversion of the waste via pyrolysis and an oil upgrade, and as a by-product it will produce recycled feedstock that can be used to reproduce plastic. The synthetic fuel produced has also been tested to result in 850 times less NOx and SOx emissions, which would greatly impact air quality around airports. The firm will carry out the conversion at its ecoPlants in the UK and Europe (for now), each of which will process 20,000 tonnes of plastic waste every year. 

Hungary advances date for coal exit from 2030 to 2025

The state of Hungary agreed to advance its coal phaseout timeline by five years, and it will now shutter its last coal plant not by 2030, but by 2025. The country’s new target is to attain 90% carbon neutrality by 2030, and under the plan it will boost its solar installations to 6GW, which will be three times its nuclear power capacity. Its last coal plant, the 884 MW unit at Matra, meanwhile, will be replaced by a natural gas and solar power plant, and the affected workers will be compensated by the EU. The latest decision brings Hungary in line with six other EU nations — the UK, Ireland, Slovakia, Italy, Portugal and France — that will stop using coal power by 2025. 

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