As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meets in Copenhagen to approve its latest report, which will provide the strongest assessment to date of the dangers to life and the planet of burning fossil fuels, Denmark has pledged to examine how it can stop using coal as an energy supply by 2025.
This is five years ahead of previous targets and, as Danish Climate and Energy minister Rasmus Helveg Petersen, said,
“It would benefit the climate and it would be a very, very good signal to send“.
Denmark has already set itself the target of meeting 100 per cent of its energy needs with renewables by 2050. Today 30 per cent of the country’s energy supply comes from wind energy and 20 per cent from coal.
Denmark wants wind energy to make up 50 per cent of its overall power supply by 2020. This summer the government’s energy agency declared that onshore wind is now the cheapest form of new electricity generation in Denmark, significantly undercutting coal power.
The coal industry’s future is, and must be, one of decline. The global market price for coal has already collapsed under oversupply. Dark clouds also loom over any significant expansion of the industry as renewables become cheaper and stronger and international action is taken to reduce carbon pollution.
In a report released yesterday, BankTrack showed that major world banks have lent $500bn in support to the coal industry since 2005. These vast sums of finance illogically being handed to it are keeping it on life support and holding the world back from moving on to cleaner, sustainable technologies.
While coal played a significant role in global development, the era of coal is over. According to the European Commission, wind is already cheaper than coal when external factors such as health impacts are accounted for, and it will only get cheaper, while coal is expected to increase in cost.
Denmark is leading the way with its renewable commitments and pledge to quit coal completely by 2025. Let us hope others see the writing on the wall and follow suit at next year’s COP21 meeting in Paris.