19 November 2013 — A group of 27 scientists from across the world have joined forces to counter the coal industry’s claim that “high efficiency coal” is a climate solution.

In a joint statement, the scientists said that having new coal without carbon capture and storage technology would mean dramatically overshooting the agreed 2°C global warming limit.

The statement was a direct response to the controversial International Coal and Climate Summit, which the World Coal Association is hosting in parallel to the UN climate negotiations in Warsaw, Poland.

In the statement, titled New unabated coal is not compatible with keeping global warming below 2°C, the scientists said that releasing into the atmosphere more than 2000 gigatons of CO2 from known coal reserves would dramatically overshoot the remaining global carbon budget of about 1000 gigatons CO2. This came on top of oil and gas reserves accounting for more than 1600 gigatons.

“We are not saying there is no future for coal,” said Professor PR Shukla of the Indian Institute of Management, “but that unabated coal combustion is not compatible with staying below the 2°C limit, if we like it or not.”

The false claims about “high-efficiency coal” as a low-emissions technology were made in the recent Warsaw Communiqué, in which the World Coal Association called for “the immediate use of high-efficiency low-emissions coal combustions technologies as an immediate step in lowering greenhouse gas emissions”.

Dr Bert Metz, former Co-Chair of the IPCC’s Working Group on Climate Change Mitigation said: “New or retrofitted coal plants without CO2 capture and storage will have a life time of 40-50 years. We need to dramatically reduce emissions over the next 40 years. That is not possible with unabated coal.

“Alternatives to fossil fuels are already available and affordable. It is therefore up to the coal industry to show that coal fired plants with CCS can compete with other zero carbon options.”