Powering Down Coal — COP26’s Impact on the Global Coal Power Fleet

The commitments to “no new coal”, ending fossil fuel financing, coal phase outs and carbon neutrality targets announced in the run-up to and at the UN climate summit in Glasgow are going to have an unprecedented impact on global coal power industry, the world’s largest CO2 emitting sector, according to new CREA analysis.

Key findings:

  • 370 more coal plants (290 GW) given a close-by date. After the pledges presented in the run-up to and at the Glasgow Summit, 750 coal-fired power plants —equivalent to 550 gigawatts (GW)— around the world have a phase-out date, while another 1600 plants (1420 GW) are covered by carbon neutrality targets but stop short of a phase-out decisions. This is up from 380 plants (260 GW)  with a phase-out date before the 2020–21 ambition-raising process that culminated in Glasgow.
  • Only 170 plants (89 GW) are not covered by either type of commitment — 5% of the operating fleet today. This is down from 2,100 plants (1,800 GW) before the Glasgow process.
  • 90 new coal power projects (88 GW) are likely to be cancelled due to “no new coal” and no new fossil fuel financing pledges — this is two-thirds of all planned coal plants outside of China. 
  • Another 130 new projects (165 GW), most importantly in China and Indonesia, are called into question as there is no room for them to operate under the country’s new zero-carbon targets.
  • Not all coal phase-out decisions are aligned with the Paris Agreement goals. Only 250 existing coal power plants (180 GW) are scheduled to close by 2030 in the OECD and 130 plants (100 GW) outside the OECD have a closure date by 2050. 
  • With Germany’s expected 2030 phase-out decision and assuming the United States’ 2035 Clean Power Plan will mean a coal phase out by 2030, the number of coal power plants with a Paris-aligned phase-out date would increase to 590 (460 GW).

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