Tag Archives: climate change

Coal too dirty for our good

Rugeley power station in the UK is being demolished in phases until 2021. Coal plants are being retired at a record pace globally. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

The National aka The Loggers Times | April 15, 2019

COAL is a cheap hydrocarbon fuel and can be used in the production of goods and services, such as electricity.

However, this cheap hydrocarbon fuel is also the No.1 cause of environmental pollution and other issues.

Coal mining and its use in Papua New Guinea should be banned.

The following direct and indirect costs of coal use support the ban.

  • Coal is an unsustainable source of energy and it cannot be replaced once it has been used;
  • carbon emissions from mine blasts and machinery used in mining coal will cause irreparable environmental damage;
  • environmental damage and carbon and heat emissions from coal mining and the industrial use of coal will contribute to global warming and exacerbate the problems we are facing with adverse weather conditions and rising sea levels globally;
  • adverse weather conditions damage roads and highways which are expensive to build, repair and maintain. They also cause major traffic delays at sea ports and airports affecting international trade and the movement of people locally and internationally;
  • adverse weather conditions are causing extensive damage to food gardens and cities and towns, as well as dislocating residents of cities, towns and villages, causing hardship and inconvenience;
  • it is costly to provide assistance to people affected by natural disasters, which are being made worse by global warming;
  • coal mining will result in the loss of the value of forests to local communities because when communities lose their forests they also lose food, shelter, and other things they depend on as people of the land; and,
  • Smog produced from the industrial use of coal in cities will increase respiratory and lung problems. Of course, the medical cost of treating the diseases is another consideration against the use of coal. PNG has so much natural resources that can be harnessed to produce cheaper, dependable and clean electricity. Coal is not one of them.
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Electricity from hydropower, solar and wind is always better than coal

Yaengolism Yalanem |The National aka The Loggers Times | April 10, 2019

PAPUA New Guinea is blessed with numerous pristine mountains and rivers, with high rainfall in the sense that we can get hydropower anywhere in the mountainous region.

Even wasted energy from the LNG is not utilised.

The commercialisation of the LNG wasted gas energy is optimal as in the case of gas-power commercialisation by Dirio Gas & Power Company.

Hydropower is wasted energy when not utilised. The high rainfall in most areas of the country provide for numerous rivers, all with good volume and flow rate.

These can provide both a source of clean, sustainable power, water for export and carbon credits. A single dam on the Purari River, for example, can provide five times the required on and off grid current power requirement for the country, but instead they have resorted to the coal seam west of Herd Base up the Purari River for the coal-fired power by Mayur Resources.

Climate change is a major threat to livelihoods in PNG.

Gulf Governor Chris Haiveta reiterated in The National on March 22 that coal was a base-load power while energy sources like solar, hydro and wind fluctuates.

Is base-load power really relevant? Because solar and wind are intermittent, hydro can be used to balance intermittent solar and wind, but experts say the term is a “dinosaur” that has been misunderstood and that no longer can apply to our dynamic energy market. Demand varies hugely and energy production needs to be responsive.

Coal-fired power stations can take days to fire up from cold to full capacity and when demand slumps during off-peak periods, shutting down isn’t an option.

So when these power plants are being built in PNG, a market solution will be created. To stop them from having to turn off overnight, the regulators and the operators will offer very, very low-cost electricity for consumers to run their electrification systems, which will in turn sustain the ‘base-load’ on the power station.

The thought of producing clean coal is just a notion made by the coal company and its proponents and promoting coal as clean is a little bit just like an advertising slogan. As the saying goes, whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.

Power-lust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind.

Clean energy will only be generated from hydro, solar, wind, tide, geothermal and bio-fuels.

By then, the energy from fossil fuel is replaced by clean energy and environmental degradation and climate change is minimized.

Remember not to be charmed into promises or offers to receive any property or benefit for your greed to satiate your desires.

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Japan to oppose new or expanded coal-fired power plants in blow to Australian exports

Japan’s environment minister has announced he will ‘in principle’ oppose any new plans to build or expand coal-fired power stations. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

Australia’s top export market for thermal coal gives further signs of dramatic energy pivot to renewables

Ben Smee | The Guardian | 31 March 2019 

Japan’s environment minister has announced he will “in principle” oppose any new plans to build or expand coal-fired power stations, as further signs emerge of a dramatic energy pivot by Australia’s top export market for thermal coal.

Guardian Australia reported in March that Japan had cancelled a large percentage of planned investments in coal-fired power, while Japanese investment vehicles were ditching coal projects and instead seeking to back large-scale renewable projects across Asia.

Market analysts expect the price of thermal coal will remain dictated by China, whose recent restrictions on Australian exports have already tempered near-record prices, and would likely continue to reduce its value.

A faster-than-anticipated transition by the Japanese energy sector, which buys 39% of Australian-mined thermal coal, would affect future volumes and the viability of some new mines.

The resources sector believes forecasts for slowing demand in north and east Asia will be offset by growth in demand in parts of south Asia and south-east Asia.

But the financing of new coal-fired projects in developing Asia will likely come from investment vehicles based in China, Japan and Korea, and be closely linked to domestic policy in those countries.

Late last week, three separate announcements added to a growing belief that a renewed, positive focus on the Paris goals is emerging in Japan, among government and large corporations.

The Japanese environment minister, Yoshiaki Harada, announced a “policy initiative” to oppose new or expanded coal-fired power plants, the national newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported.

The environment minister does not have the final say on new power generation projects, but his opinion is considered a fundamental part of the planning process.

On Friday, Japan’s largest utility, Kansai Electric Power, announced it would expand its renewable energy portfolio to 6GW by 2030, earmarking US$5bn in capital expenditure for clean power projects in the next two years.

The same day Japan’s Marubeni Corporation, a significant developer of power projects in developing Asia, announced it would target a doubling of renewable energy revenues by 2023.

Marubeni announced last year it was exiting coal. Its divestment decision was followed by fellow conglomerates MitsuiMitsubishiItochu and Sojitz. Three coal-fired power plant projects have already been cancelled in Japan this year.

Observers in Japan remain cautious, as the country has coal-fired power projects under construction and some already approved. The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has signalled he wants to show global leadership on climate change, ahead of the next G20 summit in June in Osaka.

The speed with which Japanese government and industry have shifted focus is significant, market analysts say. It comes as global financial institutions are increasingly exiting coal. On Saturday, Australia’s largest insurer, QBE, said it would stop insuring new thermal coal projects – including mines and power generation – from July this year, and underwrite no thermal coal projects by 2030.

Australian coalminers might not feel the direct impacts of these pivots for a decade or more, as most recent announcements relate to new projects, or offer staged exit commitments.

Tim Buckley, the director of energy finance studies for the Institute of Economics and Financial Analysis, said the next decade would be critical for those most heavily dependant on thermal coal.

Buckley said the Australian economy, mining communities and workers would be at greater risk if governments failed to understand the changing sentiment of global financial markets, particularly Japan, and ignored the need to implement effective transition strategies.

“We have a decade to prepare, and that’s the decade that is critically important to building the industries of the future,” Buckley said.

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Global ‘collapse’ in number of new coal-fired power plants

Rugeley power station in the UK is being demolished in phases until 2021. Coal plants are being retired at a record pace globally. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Not long before coal use is over, say analysts, while warning of possible resurgence in China

Damian Carrington | The Guardian | 28 March 2019

The number of coal-fired power plants being developed around the world has collapsed in the last three years, according to a report.

The number of plants on which construction has begun each year has fallen by 84% since 2015, and 39% in 2018 alone, while the number of completed plants has dropped by more than half since 2015.

The report, from the NGO-backed Global Energy Monitor, says the falling costs of renewable energy are pricing coal out of the electricity market, more than 100 financial institutions have blacklisted coal producers, and political action to cut carbon emissions is growing.

“It’s only a matter of time before coal is a thing of the past worldwide,” said one of the report’s authors, Neha Mathew-Shah, of the Sierra Club.

However, Christine Shearer, of Global Energy Monitor, said even emissions from the existing coal plants were incompatible with keeping global warming below 2C. “We need to radically phase down coal plant use over the next decade to keep on track for Paris climate goals,” she said.

The report warns of a possible coal plant resurgence in China, where satellite photos show developers have restarted work on dozens of suspended projects.

Coal plant retirements have continued at a record pace, the report finds, with the US accounting for more than half of the total despite efforts by the Trump administration to prevent the closure of ageing plants. A separate report this week found that three quarters of existing US coal-fired electricity production was now more expensive than new solar and wind energy.

However, data from the International Energy Agency published on Tuesday found that global carbon emissions rose in 2018, with a young fleet of coal plants in Asia accounting for a third of the increase.

The World Coal Association said in a statement: “As the largest source of electricity generation, coal will continue to be a critical enabler of development. For many countries, particularly in south and south-east Asia, it underpins economic development. We must respect and support them in their choice and fund low emissions technologies.”

However, the best modern coal plants are still significantly more polluting than even gas plants.

China and India have accounted for 85% of new coal power capacity since 2005, according to the Global Energy Monitor report. China permitted construction for the generation of less than 5GW of coal power in 2018, compared with 184GW in 2015. India permitted less than 3GW in 2018, compared with 39GW in 2010. India has added more solar and wind power capacity than coal over the last two years.

However, a report by the China Electricity Council, which represents the power utilities, proposes allowing 290GW of new capacity, more than the entire US coal fleet.

Lauri Myllyvirta, of Greenpeace, said: “Another coal power construction spree [in China] would be near impossible to reconcile with the emission reductions needed to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.”

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Energy Minister On Mayur Bandwagon

Gorethy Kenneth | Post Courier | March 22, 2019

Energy Minister Sam Basil says promoting clean coal in PNG is the way to go now because it will be the cheapest electricity supply for households.
Mr Basil addressing the media in Port Moresby, voiced support for Mayur Resources in the pretext of providing energy mix in PNG, saying it was time PNG promoted clean coal as a definite mixture and possibly cheap energy to help especially rural PNG.
“In a few weeks time, early April, the signing will happen, we will be looking at power generation and during presentations this week we have heard different companies talking about shipping gas, producing gas, processing gas, running power stations and talking about big mines that will be coming into production soon, and they require power, and it’s a very exciting time for PNG because those investments will improve the economy of PNG and of course improve the life of so many people,” Mr Basil said.
“Like I said before, we do have high voltage lines crisscrossing the nation and people are still asking for power, so investing into different kind of mixes also helps PNG not to suffer when disaster strikes…look at the recent earthquake, gas stopped supplying for three months, if we provide mixes, we are covered so if more than 50 per cent of our population rely on one type of energy we will have a problem.
“For example, hydro, when drought hits, we are affected.
“There are many opportunities available and one of them we didn’t talk about during the conference is the way to power and opportunities are there.
“We do have wind and good locations and of course, we got big deposits of coal in the Gulf.
“All we want is to bring the cost of power down, it’s got to be reliable and it’s got to be cheap and this is what we want in Papua New Guinea.”

Basil not ashamed to push for coal energy

Peter Esila | The National aka The Loggers Times | March 22, 2019
ENERGY Minister Sam Basil says he is not ashamed to talk about coal being used to drive industrialisation in Papua New Guinea.
“I am not ashamed to talk about all types and forms of energy, clean coal being part of it,” he said.
Basil was flanked by Gulf Governor Chris Haiveta and Mayur Resources managing director Paul Mulder. Mayur wants to build a coal power plant in Lae. The coal will be mined in Gulf.
Basil said Australia and Indonesia both had over 70 per cent of their power mixes from coal.
“Here we are, in a tiny, small nation, talking about clean energy while we allow those two big neighbours to smoke the atmosphere for us and our forest are being used as carbon sink,” he said.
“In a few weeks’ time, first week of April, the signing will happen.
“PNG must not be fools in their own country while other countries are using activists to drive anti-coal campaigns,”
Haiveta said the commercialisation of Gulf coal would happen.
He said coal was a base-load power while other energy sources like solar, hydro and wind fluctuated.
“Coal has been the mainstay of the industrial revolution,” Haiveta said.
“What is the big hiccup? We need Papua New Guineans to have free power. If we are the landowners, give us free power.”
Mulder said the project would create jobs for local people.
“We have a nation that has 13 per cent electrification,” he said. “We have got a huge number of people who want jobs. They want manufacturing. When producing this power, we can use clean coal technology.”

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PNG politicians push coal as Pacific islanders rail against climate change

 Catherine Wilson | Mongabay | 12 March 2019

  • Politicians in Papua New Guinea have thrown their support behind a plan to power the country’s development through coal.
  • The plan to establish coal mines and power plants gained prominence following a publicity tour hosted by rugby stars and sponsored by Australian mining and energy firm Mayur.
  • Mayur’s proposal for a project combining coal, solar and biomass energy remains stalled, pending approval by the country’s newly restructured energy utility.
  • The project faces opposition both locally and in other Pacific island states, where climate change-driven sea level rises pose a serious threat.

Politicians in Papua New Guinea are ratcheting up their support for a new foray into coal mining and power generation, even as neighboring states call for a global reduction in carbon emissions to stave off a catastrophic rise in the sea level.

PNG’s mining minister, Johnson Tuke, recently hailed the prospect of a new coal industry to boost government revenue and public access to electricity, following visits to coal mines and power stations in Australia. PNG has no coal mines or coal-fired power plants; in Australia, 60 percent of grid electricity comes from burning coal.

But the burning of coal is one of the largest contributors to human-driven climate change, setting PNG up on a collision course with smaller Pacific island states, such as Kiribati and Tuvalu, where rising sea levels threaten coastal communities and undermine water and food security. Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum — which comprises 18 states, including PNG, Australia, Kiribati and Tuvalu, among others — emphasized during their annual summit in Nauru last year that “climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.”

“This move by the PNG government is a total negation of the plight that the small island states in the Pacific are facing due to the negative impacts of climate change,” says Tafue Lusama, a climate change activist and leader of the Tuvalu Christian Church. “For one of our own brother countries in the Pacific to turn its back on our struggles is [an issue] that needs serious pleading and dialogue.”

A young boy looks at the mud, contaminated by salt water, that used to be a garden on Iangain Island in Papua New Guinea. Pacific Island leaders have identified sea level rise as one of the primary threats facing the region. Image © Greenpeace / Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert.

Australian extractive and energy company Mayur Resources has plans to construct a mixed coal power station in the eastern PNG port city of Lae, in the province of Morobe. Mayur, which has a major stake in coal exploration in neighboring Gulf province, signed a memorandum of agreement last October with the Lae city authority and the Morobe government to build an “Enviro Energy Park.” The project, which aims to use solar energy, coal and renewable biomass sourced within the country to generate electricity, has received environmental approval and is backed by Mining Minister Tuke, Energy Minister Sam Basil, and Lae MP John Rosso.

Mayur says coal is needed to help provide cheap, reliable electricity, and will help boost living standards and economic growth.

“We, as a 100 percent PNG industrial minerals and energy-focused business, are passionate about injecting all forms of energy that are cheaper and better environmentally than what PNG currently has, that also generates local industry and displaces imported energy fuels, such as heavy fuel oils and diesel, that drain PNG’s wealth,” Paul Mulder, Mayur Resources’ managing director, tells Mongabay.

Although the country produces and exports natural gas, refined and crude petroleum accounted for 11.2 percent of PNG’s total imports in 2017, costing the country nearly $400 million.

“If PNG ever wants to get to Australia’s level of prosperity, it will need to install 20,000 megawatts,” Mulder says. “PNG is not even managing 100 megawatts being installed per year. PNG political leaders have to somehow explain that it will take PNG 200 years from today to achieve the same living standard as Australia. This does not even cater for the huge population growth over the next two centuries which PNG will have… I am sure there is not one politician, not one business owner or one resident who wants to wait that long.”

Rain clouds in the mountains along the coast south of Lae. Image © Markus Mauthe / Greenpeace

PNG has one of the world’s lowest electrification rates: only about 13 percent of its people have access to mains electricity. Rugged forest-covered mountain ranges and scattered islands make grid-based power distribution a logistical challenge. This lack of access to electricity, widespread in rural areas where more than 80 percent of the country’s 8.2 million people live, contributes to the country’s low human development; an estimated 40 percent of people live below the poverty line.

Nevertheless, the PNG government is yet to issue any coal mining licenses and the proposed Enviro Energy Park remains in limbo without a power purchasing contract.

Mayur was invited by state-owned PNG Power Ltd. to submit a proposal in 2015, but the proposal has yet to be assessed by the power company’s board. PNG Power underwent a major restructuring in 2018, and with the new management came new priorities. In February, PNG Power’s acting managing director, Carolyn Blacklock, told the Post Courier newspaper that the utility now plans to increase the use of renewable energy without coal, and that a competitive, public bidding process will be required before any new projects are commissioned.

“It is not a planned activity of PNG Power and is not being considered,’ Blacklock said of Mayur’s 2015 proposal.

“Mayur has been waiting three years since its PPA [power purchasing agreement] submission,” Mulder said. “It could have already built the two 30 MW units of power generation on the Western Tidal Basin in Lae, providing businesses with extremely cheap steam and generating very reliable power with solar, coal and biomass that would already be saving PNG Power tens of millions of kina.”

Pita Meanke leans against a palm tree as high waves surge past a sea wall and into his family’s property in Betio Village on Kirabati’s Tarawa Island. PNG’s push for coal power has raised opposition from other Pacific island countries who fear inundation due to rising sea levels. Image © Greenpeace / Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

There could be changes in the country’s power industry with a new National Energy Bill currently being finalized. If passed, this would mandate a National Energy Authority to enforce safety and quality standards in the industry, encourage more power companies to operate, and increase competitive electricity pricing.

But there is still opposition from civil society, even after Mayur arranged for Australian rugby legends Sam Thaiday and Darren Lockyer (who is employed as the company’s business affairs manager), to visit PNG earlier this year and talk up the coal industry. Local environmental group Nogat Coal PNG and landowners in Morobe province’s Markham Valley, the site of a potential biomass energy project, say coal has no place in the country.

The Australian-backed case for coal faces wider opposition. Many leaders across the Pacific view the developed nation’s refusal to transition away from coal and reduce its carbon emissions — which reached a record high of nearly 530 million tonnes in March last year — as contributing to their potential demise due to climate change.

“As I always say in my advocacy works around the globe, and especially to big industrialized countries, your actions and decisions now will catch up with you sooner than later,” Lusama says. “For what we are facing today will only accelerate according to such ignorant decisions, and by the time you feel the wrath of the devastating impacts of climate change, it will be far too late to do anything.”

The mouth of the Bairaman River, where it meets the sea in East New Britain province. Image © Paul Hilton/Greenpeace

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Resource extraction responsible for half world’s carbon emissions

Massive dump trucks by the Syncrude upgrader plant, Canada. The tar sands are the largest industrial project on the planet, and the world’s most environmentally destructive. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Extraction also causes 80% of biodiversity loss, according to comprehensive UN study

Jonathan Watts | The Guardian | 12 March 2019 

Extraction industries are responsible for half of the world’s carbon emissions and more than 80% of biodiversity loss, according to the most comprehensive environmental tally undertaken of mining and farming.

While this is crucial for food, fuel and minerals, the study by UN Environment warns the increasing material weight of the world’s economies is putting a more dangerous level of stress on the climate and natural life-support systems than previously thought.

Resources are being extracted from the planet three times faster than in 1970, even though the population has only doubled in that time, according to the Global Resources Outlook, which was released in Nairobi on Tuesday.

Each year, the world consumes more than 92b tonnes of materials – biomass (mostly food), metals, fossil fuels and minerals – and this figure is growing at the rate of 3.2% per year.

Since 1970, extraction of of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) has increased from 6bn tonnes to 15bn tonnes, metals have risen by 2.7% a year, other minerals (particularly sand and gravel for concrete) have surged nearly fivefold from 9bn to 44bn tonnes, and biomass harvests have gone up from 9bn to 24bn tonnes.

Up until 2000, this was a huge boost to the global economy, but since then there has been a diminishing rate of return as resources become more expensive to extract and the environmental costs become harder to ignore.

“The global economy has focused on improvements in labour productivity at the cost of material and energy productivity. This was justifiable in a world where labour was the limiting factor of production. We have moved into a world where natural resources and environmental impacts have become the limiting factor of production and shifts are required to focus on resource productivity,” says the study.

The economic benefits and environmental costs are broken down by sector. Land use change – mostly for agriculture – accounts for over 80% of biodiversity loss and 85% of water stress as forests and swamps are cleared for cropland that needs irrigation. Extraction and primary processing of metals and other minerals is responsible for 20% of health impacts from air pollution and 26% of global carbon emissions.

The biggest surprise to the authors was the huge climate impact of pulling materials out of the ground and preparing them for use. All the sectors combined together accounted for 53% of the world’s carbon emissions – even before accounting for any fuel that is burned.

“I would never have expected that half of climate impacts can be attributed to resource extraction and processing,” said Stefanie Hellweg, one of the authors of the paper. “It showed how resources are hiding behind products. By focusing on them, their tremendous impact became apparent.”

The paper highlights growing inequalities. In rich countries, people consume an average of 9.8 tonnes of resources a year, the weight of two elephants. This is 13 times higher than low incomes groups. Much of this is unseen because huge amounts of materials are often needed for a small end product, such as a mobile phone.

Izabella Teixeira, former environment minister of Brazil, said the report highlighted how rich consumer nations have exported environmental to poor producing countries. With this model now hitting climate and biodiversity boundaries that affect everyone on the planet, she said it was time for change. “Currently decisions are being based on the past but we need to base them on the future. That means leadership.”

Where leadership could come from is difficult to see in the current political environment. The US and Brazil are slashing existing environmental regulations. China has moved ahead on renewables and pollution, but its growth is even more material-intensive than developed nations. According to the report, Asia is driving the fastest demand for minerals among upper-middle income countries, which now – because of their big populations – have a greater combined material weight than wealthy nations.

The authors said it was essential to decouple economic growth from material consumption. Without change, they said resource demand would more than double to 190bn tonnes a year, greenhouse gases would rise by 40% and demand for land would increase by 20%.

However, they said this dire scenario could be avoided if there is a faster transition towards renewables, smarter urban planning to reduce the demand for concrete, dietary changes to lower the need for grazing pastures and cut levels of waste (currently a third of all food), and a greater focus on creating a cyclical economy that re-uses more materials. They also called for a switch of taxation policies away from income and towards carbon and resource extraction.

“It is possible to grow in a different way with fewer side-effects. This report is clear proof that it is possible and with higher growth,” said Janez Potočnik, co-chair of International Resource Panel and former environment commissioner for the European Union. “It’s not an easy job to do, but believe me the alternative is much worse.”

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