Despite a significant international trend in favour of coal divestment, the transition away from coal remains uneven across the globe. Countries in which coal plays a residual role in the energy mix or in which shale gas has emerged are phasing out coal. The issues are complex, given the combina- tion of economic, social, fiscal and energy security concerns linked to the coal sector.
It was with these considerations in mind that IDDRI launched the project Coal Transitions: Research and Dialogue on the Future of Coal.
Coal Transitions brings together leading energy policy research institutes in six major coal dependent economies–China, India, South Africa, Australia, Germany and Poland. The core aim of the project is for these teams to explore concrete and realistic pathways to reduce the share of unabated coal in their national energy systems, in line with the 2°C objective of the Paris Agreement.
The project teams are exploring ways to frame a more constructive policy discussion in their respective countries, not on “whether” to transition away from coal, but on “how” to do so.
In order to strengthen these debates, the consortium convenes in each of these coun- tries to discuss the overall progress made and to address country-specific issues. In Poland, teams worked on drawing lessons from past experiences with coal transitions; in India, on innovative energy solutions; in Australia, a case study of the Hazelwood power station was conducted.
These events are also an opportunity for the consortium to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders. The project is backed by a permanent Advisory Group made up of industry representatives (MAC Consulting, Engie, EDF), trade unions (Just Transition Centre), multilateral institutions (World Bank, CCC Alliance) and governments (India, China). Other stakeholders from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives were also brought together for a general over- view: World Coal Association, International Energy Agency (IEA), BNP Paribas, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), Agora Energiewende.
As a result, the consortium has begun to acquire international recognition. The project’s historical case studies informed the European Commission’s development of the EU Initiative for Coal Regions in Transition. National experts brought together and supported by the project co-authored a dedicated chapter focus- ing on coal in the 2017 United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Gap Report. Some of the project’s findings have also been used by academics and mainstream media in Australia as part of a successful campaign to block the development of the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland.