EURACOAL President, Dr Wolfgang Cieslik of STEAG, gave a keynote address at the 36th Coaltrans World Coal Conference in Lisbon on Monday, 17 October 2016.
The conference brought together over 300 coal industry leaders from around the world, including producers, consumers, traders and government officials.
In his presentation, which was followed by an on-stage interview, Dr Cieslik observed that current regulations have killed the European electricity market. He called for policy stability to re-establish trust in the market.
Dr Cieslik expressed confidence in coal, noting that it will remain his company’s main business over the coming years. Without conventional thermal power generation, it would be impossible to ensure reliable power supply in Germany and elsewhere, he concluded.
Chaired by Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, Director – Internal Energy Market at DG Energy, and EURACOAL Vice President, Vladimír Budinský, the 12th EC-EURACOAL Coal Dialogue examined the future role of coal after the recent round of climate negotiations in Paris. Speakers included MEP Claude Turmes (Greens/EFA, LU) and Mr. Dumitru Fornea, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
Coal represents one quarter of EU electricity demand, mostly from indigenous coal, and supports 300 000 direct jobs. While MEP Turmes argued that there was no room for coal in the future EU energy mix, all agreed that the EU needs a response to the difficult question of coal in the “energy transition”.
To read the full report and presentation please follow this link.
The well-known Coaltrans event gathers over 500 industry innovators and thought leaders for three days of constructive discussion, bringing key macro trends and pricing overviews, lots of one-to-one meetings and deal making, technical content, provocative interactive debates and workshops, and keynote industry interviews.
Some of the topics for this year are:
Oil, gas, carbon, coal: a perfect storm of risks for coal, but how much demand is at risk?
Snapshot price forecasts: five-year forecasts for coal prices, oil prices and LNG prices
Are thermal coal prices becoming more dependent on currency movements than on demand and supply?
How much can the Middle East and Turkey support Atlantic coal trade?
With speakers from International Energy Agency, Noble Resources, Uniper, RWE Supply & Trading and many others. EURACOAL members will get a 10% discount off the registration fee for the event.
In light of the EU European Trading System reform, the European Association for Coal and Lignite, EURACOAL, welcomes the Commission proposal of July 2015.
EURACOAL firmly believes in a market-based approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as the EU ETS. The single European cap ensures that climate policy targets are achieved. The price follows from the target and reflects the cost of CO2 reduction. If the price of allowances is low, then this means that the CO2 reduction target has been achieved at a low cost – a good outcome. Calls for a particular “carbon price” would undermine the ETS as a market-driven trading system.
EURACOAL presents in its position paper several points where we consider that improvements could be made, namely the Modernisation and Innovation Funds, the Market Stability Reserve, international credits, the free allocations for projects in eligible Member States and for district heating / CHP, the distribution between auctioning and free allowances, allowance fungibility and the New Entrants Reserve.
For over a quarter of a century, climate science has been widely debated, with a range of views expressed on the role that carbon dioxide (CO2) plays in climate change. Here, two prominent scientists present their views not only on climate science, but also on energy supply and global politics: one at the Vatican and the other at a EURACOAL-hosted dinner debate in the European Parliament.
Climate science advisor to the Pope and the German Chancellor, Prof. Hans Joachim (John) Schellnhuber, argues that the Earth is like a patient suffering from a fever. If this fever can be managed below a temperature rise of 2°C – his so-called “planetary guardrail” – then humanity might survive.
For Prof. Schellnhuber, the science is clear: an overwhelming body of evidence shows that global warming is driven by greenhouse-gas emissions which are the result of burning fossil fuels, creating intolerable risks. Any delay to mitigation measures may jeopardise climate stability – Prof. Schellnhuber’s “tipping points” of unstable jet streams, major methane releases, erratic El Niño events, disintegrating ice sheets and social disruption.
On 18 June 2015 at the Vatican, with a mix of science and politics, he explained his thinking not only on extreme climate change, but also on the gross inequity of global wealth distribution; wealth that was largely created by the “carbon powers”, beginning with the UK and Europe, followed by the US and more recently by China. This 20-minute amateur video of his presentation offers a concise summary of his position. Background papers were published by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Holy See Press Office, based on a paper by Prof. Schellnhuber published in 2014 by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Greenpeace founder and environmental scientist, Dr. Patrick Moore, denies claims that CO2 is a pollutant and is sceptical that it will cause much warming of the climate. He notes that far from being a harmful greenhouse gas, CO2 is necessary for life on Earth. However, the oceans remove CO2 from the atmosphere by natural absorption; then crustaceans (shellfish) convert it to carbonate minerals, ultimately forming sedimentary rocks such as limestone, chalk and marble in which the CO2 is locked away. He warns that atmospheric CO2 concentrations had fallen over time to dangerously low levels, threatening plant life and hence all life.
Dr. Moore believes that rising CO2 levels are good for life – his “planetary guardrail” being the 180 ppm below which plants die, a level that might have been reached if man had not burnt fossil fuels. On 2 February 2016, Dr. Moore presented his thesis at a dinner debate in the European Parliament, Strasbourg, in front of MEPs, industry representatives and an IPCC scientist who brought balance to the debate. EURACOAL has published a full report of the dinner debate which was held under the Chatham House rule. This 40-minute video is of an earlier, similar presentation given on 14 October 2015 at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London.
Prof. Schellnhuber has a unique understanding of complex, nonlinear systems and chaos theory; his understanding goes far beyond that of ordinary laypeople and experts in particular disciplines. He says that climate change, caused by the tiny CO2 molecule, can trigger sudden, irreversible and large-scale disruptions in the Earth systems, e.g. a sea-level rise of seven metres if the Greenland ice sheet were to melt. He cites a World Bank report that he himself authored on why a 4°C warmer world has to be avoided and so justifies a “master plan” for the planet – namely, his “Great Transformation”.
In the context of climate policy, scientists and moral philosophers, including Prof. Schellnhuber, refer to the climate as “our common good”. He calls for new property rights that give ownership of the atmosphere to humankind through carbon pricing and questions if it is ethical to exploit fossil fuel reserves as private goods for the benefit of a small, privileged group of mankind, generating extreme wealth for a few.
The COP21 Paris Agreement has legally binding obligations on stocktaking and transparency, but not on emission targets: only the “well below 2°C” limit on global temperature rise. Even with all the major COP21 pledges (INDCs), and regardless of the EU’s own ambitious targets, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will increase by 2030.
The EU’s proposed target for 2030, if reached, would see the Union’s GHG emissions fall to just 6% of the global total. And yet, global emissions still rise: the planet is not saved. The proposed EU ETS reductions would mean that emissions from the sectors covered must drop to zero by 2058. The stark reality of this proposal is that Europe would be devoid of all energy-intensive industries and perhaps have little left in the way of manufacturing industry. Jobs and emissions would be outsourced to every other region of the world.
A less ambitious climate target, achieved by making efficiency improvements across the whole economy and including transport into the EU ETS, could put Europe on a better path. EURACOAL calls on President Tusk and all 28 EU leaders to reject the 40% target and to adopt a less ambitious, more realistic target that can deliver more for Europe, as described in our white paper, “Why less climate ambition would deliver more for the EU“.
EURACOAL’s analysis of the possible vote in the Council shows that, for example, either Greece AND Romania, OR Spain, OR the UK must vote against, assuming that the Visegrád Group is united in its opposition to the 40% target. Note also that a Member State must ask for the old qualified majority vote (QMV) rule to be used, otherwise more Member States would have to vote against.
The Executive Committee of EURACOAL elected Dr. Wolfgang Cieslik, member of the Board of Management of STEAG GmbH, as President of the European coal industry association.
Dr. Cieslik, who is also Chairman of the Coal Importers’ Association (VDKi), takes on the presidency from Dr. Zygmunt Łukaszczyk, Chairman of the Board of Katowicki Holding Węglowy S.A., one of the three largest Polish coal mining companies.
Mr. Vladimír Budinský, representing the Czech Association of Employers in Mining Industry (ZSDNP) and Mr. Nigel Yaxley, representing the Association of UK Coal Importers and Producers (CoalImP), were both re-elected as Vice Presidents and are joined by newly elected Mr. Janusz Olszowski of the Polish Mining Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GIPH).
Please read the full press release at the following link.
Brussels, Sat 19/12/2015 17:18 (corrected Thu 28/01/2016 21:55 to clarify partnership between 350.org and Guardian)
After reading all 1,001 comments made by Guardian readers in response to “Coal lobby boss says industry ‘will be hated like slave-traders’ after COP21” (Arthur Neslen, UK Guardian, 15 December 2015), I have selected the best and republish them below. They offer a rich source of ideas and views on coal, both for and against: clever ones, insightful ones and funny ones. They will influence EURACOAL. The sweetest one sits at the very end, from OrganicPeaBrain. Vitriolic comments were thankfully few in number. I’m sure that many respectable people stand behind their shields of online anonymity, but they should remember that those shields are really only paper thin to the eyes of GCHQ.
We have published the EURACOAL members’ briefing that Arthur Neslen quotes, so that his juicy bits can be seen in their proper context. While we do question the future potential of renewables, EURACOAL has no view on climate science. However, it is fair to say that many in the coal industry are climate sceptics. Skilled miners, well-educated mining engineers and professional geologists have a unique perception; they work with materials that were laid down hundreds of millions of years ago and have a better appreciation than most people of the great planetary changes that have taken place over time. Convincing them is the test of climate scientists.
On climate action, I would go for economic options; as OscarAwesome states below, “The morality follows the economics.” So, we need cheap alternatives to coal. If we have to rely on public support for renewables, then there will be no “energy transition”, just lost jobs. It is easy to destroy things, very easy. Building stable societies is much harder. EURACOAL will continue to say what we think and I sincerely hope that others around the world will be free to do the same.
To that end, an independent media with keen investigative journalists is hugely important in any democratic society. So, it was good to see the Guardian publish the story that needed to be published on how the UN pushed through the Paris Agreement in a way that lacked democratic legitimacy: John Vidal’s article explains this far better than I did in my members’ briefing.
Like all newspapers, the Guardian has had to find a new business model in a world where we expect online content to be free. The Guardian’s “keep it in the ground” campaign is run in partnership with a US-based organisation called 350.org, founded by Bill McKibben. It’s hard to judge his editorial influence, beyond his insightful and often inciting opinion pieces, e.g. on 13 December when he wrote in the Guardian of a “pack of wolves” at Exxon’s heels and called for illegal action at the “world’s carbon bombs”. Dangerous words, but permissible in the UK’s free press.
The coal industry is portrayed as a bunch of rent-seeking capitalists and, yes, I laughed at the “Australian Coal Mining Company” video on YouTube. In Europe, most coal mining is carried out by state-owned companies, companies such as Kompania Węglowa in Poland. I was there recently to celebrate St. Barbara’s Day, the patron saint of miners (Wizzair €8 flight from Charleroi, no carbon offset). I drank too much vodka with miners who work harder than I ever have to produce the coal that powers the Polish economy. They are good, decent men and women. Like me, they are wage slaves, not capitalists.
Please see at this link our brochure arguing for a more realistic EU climate policy that can deliver a better environment, growth and jobs. Our COP21 report to EURACOAL members has been quoted by some media organisations. It was a mistake to share it. For those interested, the report is available here.
It is not easy to explain why “less can be more”. However, in the case of EU climate and energy policy, the truth is that a less ambitious policy – some might say a more realistic policy – would deliver greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions at a much lower cost than a policy which favours targets that are unaffordable and therefore unrealistic.
It has now become obvious that the fast expansion of solar PV in Germany from 2009 to 2013 gave the illusion of a prosperous solar industry, an illusion that has since faded. The party is over and now there is a hangover: many companies have gone bankrupt and jobs have been lost. The solar boom leaves a debt to be paid by German consumers over the next 20 years of €100 to €200 billion. Given that the prices for PV installations have fallen in recent years, it seems that less ambition would have delivered more. Technologies and the timing of their introduction are key questions. Economics is perhaps the single most important driver in today’s world. People generally want as much as possible for their money (“more for less”) and the control of GHG emissions should not be seen as being any different.
This paper explores why a more progressive policy on power plant modernisation and renewal could deliver emission reductions at a lower cost to society, demonstrate global leadership and, crucially, avoid the risk of an over-dependence on imported natural gas which appears to be the default option for future power generation in many Member States without providing a reliable solution.
Miners all over the world commemorate on the 4th of December their patron saint, St Barbara, requesting her continuing protection for their daily work.
Mining traditions for this day span back for hundreds of years, including wearing the miners’ uniform, employee anniversaries and awards, retirement ceremonies, family trips to the mines and many other social events.
Although mining is one of the most essential of human activities, one scarcely considers the raw materials needed to power and produce the products and services that we use in our every-day lives. A weekend protesting against coal might seem morally right to some, even fun. Then, they fly back to their warm homes, without a second thought for those millions of coal miners who quietly, but tirelessly provide the energy that we all take for granted.
EURACOAL, the European Association for Coal and Lignite, is supporting the World Coal Association’s workshop and conference “A pathway to clear, low emission coal use”, organised in Brussels from 9:00 to 16:15 on 17 November.
Vladimír Budinsky, Vice President of EURACOAL and Vice Chairman of the Board at ČEZ Distribuce, previously Board Member responsible for strategy and communications at Severoceske doly a.s., a Czech lignite mining company also in the ČEZ Group, will moderate the afternoon technology session.
The European Association for Coal and Lignite (EURACOAL) released a report on the funding of anti-coal campaigns by NGOs. It finds that a wave of money is flooding into the EU policy space from a small number of super-rich donors, many from the US, who hope to influence EU climate and energy policy in favour of their own preferred solutions, whatever the cost to European consumers. This is a story about money and power; a story in which Europe is viewed as a “laboratory for the world”.
Please see the full press release at the following link. Full report at this link.