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Blog Posts: coal

  • Identifying the Global Coal Industry’s Water Risks

    Regional water concerns are creating significant financial risks, thanks in large part to advanced global commodity trading and energy industries’ high dependence on water. And it’s a trend that is poised to worsen. BP projects a 36 percent increase in global energy consumption by 2030, while the Water Resources Group predicts that in the same amount of time freshwater supplies will fall 40 percent short of total demand globally.

    The water–energy nexus is becoming one of the great challenges of our generation—one that also holds significant implications for political leaders and investors alike. This article explores how water risks are already impacting the world’s coal industry, and how risks will change over time.

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  • After State of the Union Address, U.S. Should Pursue Ambitious Power Plant Emissions Standards

    In the State of the Union address last night, President Obama called to make this “a year of action.” Addressing climate change will require his administration to make that call a reality.

    The most important task the administration can take is to set greenhouse gas emissions standards for existing power plants—a move that the President highlighted in his speech last night. Ambitious power plant standards are a critical starting point if the United States is to rise to the climate change challenge.

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  • Watching for Signs of Climate Action in the State of the Union Address

    When President Obama addresses the nation later today, climate change is expected to be featured. The president recently said that one of his personal passions is “leaving a planet that is as spectacular as the one we inherited from our parents and our grandparents.” The next two years will determine if his administration can meet this standard.

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  • Top 5 Climate and Energy Stories for 2014

    Manish Bapna discusses the top 5 U.S. climate and energy stories for 2014. Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published at Forbes.

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  • 7 Stories to Watch in 2014

    Earlier this month, WRI launched its “Stories to Watch in 2014.”

    All years are important, but decisions made in 2014 will have a striking impact for decades to come. Here are seven potential game-changers:

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  • 5 Ways Minnesota Can Reduce its Power Plant Emissions

    Thanks to efforts to reduce its coal use, Minnesota is producing more power while decreasing its carbon dioxide pollution. But the state has the potential to go even further.

    New WRI analysis finds that Minnesota can reduce its carbon dioxide emissions 31 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 just by complying with its current policies and taking advantage of existing infrastructure opportunities. Achieving these reductions will allow Minnesota to meet potentially ambitious EPA power plant emissions standards, which are due to be finalized next year.

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  • 5 Ways Wisconsin Can Reduce Power Plant Emissions

    Wisconsin has already taken strides to reduce its near-term power sector CO2 emissions by implementing cost-effective clean energy policies. And the state has the opportunity to go even further. In fact, new WRI analysis finds that Wisconsin can reduce its CO2 emissions 43 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 by extending its existing clean energy policies and taking advantage of existing infrastructure. Achieving these reductions will allow Wisconsin to meet even ambitious EPA power plant emissions standards, which are due to be finalized in 2015.

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  • Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Fossil Fuels and Cement Reach Highest Point in Human History

    We already know the world’s carbon budget is being exhausted at an alarming pace, but a new scientific assessment reveals just how sobering the picture of the global carbon cycle truly is.

    The Global Carbon Project’s (GCP) 2013 report finds that at the precise time emissions reductions are needed most, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from burning fossil fuels and producing cement have reached their highest level in human history.

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  • King Coal’s Climate Challenge

    Coal is emerging as a major topic of conversation at the United Nations climate-change negotiations currently taking place in Warsaw – and rightly so. Indeed, it is a discussion that the world needs to have.

    The latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conclude that we are quickly using up our carbon “budget” – the amount of carbon that we can afford to emit while still having a good chance of limiting global warming to 2º Celsius. According to the IPCC, keeping the global temperature increase from pre-industrial levels below this threshold – the recognized tipping point beyond which climate change is likely to get seriously out of control – requires that the world emit only about 1,000 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC). More than half of this amount was already emitted by 2011. Unless we shift away from carbon-intensive behavior, the remaining budget will run out in roughly three decades.

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  • Unabated Coal Use Will Break World’s “Carbon Budget”

    While many people are traveling to Warsaw this week to participate in the international climate negotiations (COP 19), the city is also hosting another global conference: the International Coal and Climate Summit. It’s a troubling juxtaposition—coal contributes to 43 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it a major driver of climate change. In fact, a new statement released by leading scientists suggests that nearly three-quarters of fossil fuel reserves—especially coal—must remain unused if the world is to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. In other words, limiting sea level rise, extreme weather events, heat waves, and other climate impacts requires staying within world’s “carbon budget”—which doesn’t include unabated coal use.

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