Coal Crunch

This year, at the annual COP23 climate conference, Denmark renewed its pledge to end its reliance on coal for the purposes of producing electricity by 2030. This timeline was previously announced, but was later scrapped when the country elected a right-leaning government in 2015.

A host of countries made the same commitment at the event. Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Mexico and the Marshall Islands will all pursue different methods to produce electricity with a shared deadline of 2030.

The alliance hopes to grow its numbers to include 50 countries by the time the 2018 climate conference rolls around.

“It is no use countries acting alone in relation to this agenda,” said the Danish energy and climate minister Lars Christian Lilleholt. “What is vital is that a large number of countries take part, so it makes a real difference internationally,”

Denmark currently has three power stations that utilize coal. The Esbjerg Power Station is set to stop using coal by 2023, the facility in Nordjylland will follow suit by 2028, and the station in Fyn will do so by 2030.

Image: Inside climate news

Farewell to fossil fuels

In recent years, Denmark has made great strides toward implementing a more environmentally conscious energy program. The country recently sold its last oil company, and in March of 2017 demonstrated it’s green energy capabilities by producing 100 percent of its energy via wind power.

Now, Denmark wants to be among the countries leading the charge to phase out coal. However, it’s far from the only nation that’s making this transition. India just shut down 37 of its largest coal mines, and China is pursuing far-reaching efforts to eliminate coal from its urban centers. These two countries were not among those that signed the commitment for 2030, but they will no doubt be among the top priorities as the alliance continues to expand.

The negative effects of coal on the environment are well-documented, but its direct effect on human wellbeing can’t be understated. A study published this year stated that coal is responsible for as many as 52,000 deaths every year in the US alone, and experts agree that we would be much healthier if we cut down on our usage.

Renewable energy is a practical and cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels, but the US continues to lag behind when it comes to transitioning to cleaner forms of production. Perhaps as more and more countries make changes, the US and others will follow.