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Coal’s emissions shadow: meeting climate goals requires cancelling all proposed coal power plants and accelerating the retirement of existing fleets

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coal power

The world is facing a critical moment to increase global ambition to address climate change, using all the resources at our disposal, and including all levels of government and all actors. A key and readily available aspect of this strategy is to rapidly reduce coal power production worldwide, which would bring multiple benefits to human health and the environment. The most immediate and potentially low-cost opportunity is to simply avoid building the large number of coal-fired power plants that have been proposed, but not yet built.

Burning coal for power is one of the largest contributors to climate change, and yet countries around the world are building large numbers of new coal power plants every year, and planning more. Our research leverages and builds new global datasets of individual coal power plants to paint a global and country-specific picture of coal power planning and construction and the rapid phase-out necessary to keep the world on track to the climate goals embedded in the Paris Agreement—particularly, the need to keep warming under 2°C with best efforts to approach 1.5°C


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School Authors: Nathan Hultman, Leon Clarke, Christina Bowman, Morgan Edwards, Yiyun 'Ryna' Cui

Other Authors: Carla Frisch, Kevin Kennedy, Paul Bodnar, Pete Hansel, Tom Cyrs, Michelle Manion, Jessie Lund, Joel Jaeger, Andrew Clapper, Arijit Sen, Devashree Saha, Michael Westphal, Wendy Jaglom , Juan Carlos Altamirano, Maggie Dennis, Kareem Hammoud, Christopher Henderson, John O'Neill, Emily Goldfield