G7 nations 'should go cold turkey on coal', says Oxfam

12 June 2015

The UK could stop burning coal by 2023 and the government should set out policies to make this happen and reduce global warming costing billions of dollars a year.

A report by Oxfam analysed the different energy mixes of each G7 country and set out when each one can feasibly become coal-free. It also looks at the impact on global food supply due to the increase in global warming.

The report concluded phasing out coal in the UK by the early 2020s is affordable and would not lead to an energy shortage. It calls on the government to invest in smarter energy storage, reducing demand and improving energy efficiency for those living in poverty, for example by insulating draughty homes.

According to the report, Let Them Eat Coal, Oxfam said the UK government should identify a clear plan to support coal-industry workers in the transition to new industries with jobs growth. This should be embedded within a wider employment plan to grow jobs in the UK renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, the charity said. The government should announce it will end subsidies for fossil fuels, especially coal under the capacity market mechanism, according to the report.

Oxfam claims coal dependence of the G7 countries is on track to cost the world $450 billion (£294 billion) a year by the end of the century, and reduce crops by millions of tonnes by increasing climate change. It said coal is the biggest driver of climate change, and that G7 coal plants emit double the fossil fuel emissions of Africa and 10 times as much as the 48 least developed countries.

Oxfam said Africa faces costs of $84 billion (£55 billion) a year by the end of the century due to the damage caused by G7 coal emissions. It warned seven million tonnes of staple crops could be lost annually by the 2080s because of G7 coal emissions.

Max Lawson, Oxfam’s head of global policy and campaigns, said: “The G7’s addiction to coal is hiking up costs for developing countries and putting more and more people on the frontline of climate change at risk of hunger.

"Ahead of the UN climate talks later this year, G7 leaders need to go cold turkey on coal and recognise their responsibility to lead the way towards renewables. This will make significant additional cuts in their carbon emissions, generate jobs and give the step-change needed towards a safer, sustainable and prosperous future for everyone."

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