May 10, 2023
Issue 465  |  View Past Issues
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

The recent vote of the European Parliament in favour of a draft bill regulating domestic methane emissions from coal and other fossil fuels production is a significant move in the shift to slash methane emissions. Of particular note is the provision aiming to ensure that any coal or other fossil fuel imports after 2026 meet European Union regulatory standards. That will be particularly significant for metallurgical coal, which typically has higher methane emissions than thermal coal. Another standout story from Europe is the decision of Spain’s Supreme Court to uphold the prison sentence of the owner of a coal company that used land beyond its permitted area and failed to undertake rehabilitation works. In the last decade there have been very few instances where a corporate executive has been jailed, no matter how great the damage.

In other developments, the latest draft of India’s power plan suggests it won’t support new coal plants beyond those already under construction. While welcome, it may simply be an acknowledgement of the financial reality of new power projects with renewables already significantly cheaper than many existing plants. A further factor behind the decision is that many of the plants nominally under construction have been stranded for some time after the sponsoring companies collapsed and banks were burned in the process.

Bob Burton


Coal power is no cure for Guangdong

Guangdong, China’s biggest provincial economy, has more than 46,000 megawatts (MW) of coal capacity under development, but the reasons for building more coal power stations don’t stack up, writes Zhang Xiaoli in China Dialogue.

Indian tribal community ‘not informed’ of Adani coal project that will turn their world upside down

Tribal communities were not informed about public hearings about plans by Adani to mine the Dhirauli coal block in Madhya Pradesh, writes Ayaskant Das in Adani Watch.

US Environmental Protection Agency promises action on Puerto Rico coal ash, but residents are tired of waiting

The US Environmental Protection Agency has offered support to Guayama residents after decades of environmental injustice, but residents say they won’t be satisfied until the plant is closed and all its coal ash removed, writes Kelli Duncan in Energy News Network.

Top News

European Parliament backs stricter regulation of methane emissions: The European Parliament has overwhelmingly voted 499-73 in favour of a draft regulation of methane emissions from coal, oil and gas production in the European Union. The draft law proposes a ban on the venting and flaring of methane from drainage stations in coal mines by 2025 and from ventilation shafts by 2027. The supporters of the draft argue these measures will cut methane emissions and increase worker safety in coal mines. Members of the European Parliament have also called for importers to demonstrate by 2026 that coal and other fossil fuel imports meet the European Union standards. The draft law proposes exempting coal exporting countries from the requirement if they have equivalent methane regulations. (Reuters, Euractiv)

Spanish court upholds prison sentence for owner of coal company: The Spanish Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Victorino Alonso, the owner of Coto Minero Cantabrico, against a four-year prison sentence and €24 million ($26.44 million) fine imposed over environmental damage at the Nueva Julia open cut coal mine. The court found that Alonso had a permit for the mine between 2007 and 2010 but had used almost 19 hectares of protected land without authorisation. The court found that the mine had damaged more than 400 hectares of land. “The impact is of such a scale that signs are visible to the naked eye, such as topographical changes, the destruction of the soil and of all vegetation, the existence of tailings dumps, or the blocking of stream beds by debris,” the court said. The court noted that Alonso made no effort to rehabilitate the site. His company filed for bankruptcy in 2013. (Reuters)

Indian policy flags no new coal plants beyond those under construction: The latest revision of India’s draft National Electricity Policy omits a clause supporting the construction of new coal plants beyond those already under construction. In 2022 the Central Electricity Authority, which advises the Ministry of Power, suggested India may need another 28,000 MW of new coal projects beyond those already under construction to cater for surging demand. “After months of deliberations, we have arrived at a conclusion that we would not need new coal additions apart from the ones already in pipeline,” one anonymous source told Reuters. The latest draft would not affect the coal projects at various stages of construction, some of which are projects that stalled due to the financial distress of the original sponsors.  Global Energy Monitor’s Global Coal Plant Tracker estimates 32,000 MW of new coal plants are under construction, with a further 28,500 MW in the pre-construction phases of approval and financing. Reuters reports that 28,200 MW of coal plants are currently under construction. (Reuters, Climate Home News)

Australian ‘zombie’ mines cancelled as decision looms on another: The Australian Minister for Environment, Tanya Plibersek, has cancelled the environmental assessment process of two long-stalled coal mines, the China Stone and The Range coal projects in Queensland. Macmines abandoned the 2 billion tonne China Stone project in 2019, and there has been no progress on Stanmore Coal’s The Range project in Central Queensland since 2013. In July 2022, the Environment Council of Central Queensland, represented by Environmental Justice Australia, initiated legal proceedings requesting Plibersek reconsider 19 coal and gas projects. Following the latest decision, 14 projects remain under active consideration, with a decision on Bowen Coking Coal’s proposed Isaac River Coal Mine due soon. The Australia Institute said the government might be trying to “build up a tough-on-coal reputation by slaying a few zombies” before announcing the go-ahead for new projects. (Guardian, Environmental Justice Australia, Australia Institute)

Welsh mine keeps operating despite council decision: Residents and environmental groups have called on Merthyr Tydfil council to take enforcement action against the owner of the Ffos-y-Fran coal mine after drone footage revealed production was continuing at the site despite council rejecting an application to allow mining to continue until March 2024. The video showed the excavation of coal occurring at the coal face deep in the mine pit. Planning permission for Merthyr (South Wales) mine expired in September 2022. A spokesperson for the council said an investigation is underway and “a decision will be taken as to what enforcement action is the most appropriate”. The company said that it was in discussions with the council about “a safe cessation of coaling which includes ongoing restoration”. (WalesOnline, WalesOnline YouTube)

Adani said it was leaving Myanmar but kept dealing with the military: Leaked documents have revealed that on the same day that Adani publicly stated it was planning to end its involvement in the Yangon port project, a company executive lodged an expression of interest in exporting coal and told a sanctioned minister that Adani Transmission was negotiating a potential electricity supply project with Myanmar’s military regime. “We enthuse to cooperate the development of Myanmar’s Electric Power sector as well as Myanmar’s coal production and mining industry,” wrote Dwarkesh Sharma, a joint president with Adani Power. A document provided to Justice for Myanmar reveals Sharma requested information on potential coal projects in the Sagaing region, an area notorious for human rights abuses by the military regime. The documents reveal that in the 18 months since the company said it was ending its role in the port project, Adani Ports has loaned a further $US24 million to its Myanmar subsidiary to fund construction, dredging, and equipment. The project is being developed by Myanmar Economic Corporation, a business controlled by the military regime. (ABC News)

South African MP disciplined over role with Gupta businesses: South Africa’s National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, has voted to censure and penalise African National Congress MP Mosebenzi Zwane after complaints from other MPs over his role in ‘state capture’ by Gupta family businesses. A Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests report found that as Minister of Mineral Resources, Zwane had lobbied Glencore to sell the optimum Coal mine to Tegeta Exploration and Resources, a Gupta-owned company. To fund the purchase of the mine, Eskom agreed to pre-purchase R1.68-billion (US$87 million) of coal from Tegeta Exploration and Resources, also a Gupta company. For this, the National Assembly has suspended Zwane from parliament until his term ends in May 2024. The committee also found that Zwane did not disclose travel and accommodation costs paid for by the Gupta’s. For this, he was fined five days’ salary. He was also directed to apologise for breaching the ethics code by appointing two business associates of the Gupta family as advisers. (News24, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa)


Australia: The Australian Government has established the Net Zero Authority to assist workers in emissions-intensive sectors in accessing new employment, skills and support.

Australia: Coca-Cola Europacific Partners has sold [paywall] its coal royalties from two Queensland mines for A$65 million (US$44 million) to privately-owned Czech firm Sev.en Global Investments.

China: Thirty-two open-cut coal mines in Inner Mongolia, with a combined production of 26.55 million tonnes a year, have been closed following safety inspections by the National Mine Safety Administration.

India: A government panel of experts has found that the Talabira mine in Odisha, operated by an Adani subsidiary, has failed to comply with environmental regulations.

South Africa: A former accountant at Eskom’s Kriel Power Station was sentenced to eight years in prison for invoicing the utility 513,630 rand (US$28,000) from companies he ran. No work was done for the payments.

Thailand: Despite high prices, sales from Banpu’s Thai and Indonesian coal mines slipped due to weather disruptions.

US: Jim Justice, a billionaire coal baron and Governor of West Virginia has announced he will nominate to run as a Republican candidate for the Senate in 2024 against pro-coal Democrat Joe Manchin.

Companies + Markets

Colorado legislature votes to ban utilities billing consumers for lobbying: The Colorado parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a bill that bans private utilities from using revenue from customers to fund the costs of trade associations, promotional advertising, some forms of lobbying, and other political influence activities. The bill also includes provisions that require the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to establish rules limiting how much privately-owned utilities can charge customers for the costs of lawyers and consultants in proceedings promoting increased rates. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor Jared Polis. The Edison Electric Institute, a power utility lobby group, and Xcel Energy, a major coal power generator, were among the groups that opposed the bill. (Energy and Policy Initiative)

Report finds coal policies in the finance sector are accelerating: A new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has found that the pace of major financial institutions adopting coal exclusion policies is accelerating. IEEFA found that while it took six years before there were 100 financial institutions with coal exclusion policies, the next hundred took just over three years. The study notes that mid-level financial institutions have been the leaders in the shift. The report found that the scope of coal exclusion policies is gradually broadening to include all aspects of financial support for companies with coal interests and extending to coal gasification and rail and port infrastructure. Of the 36 asset managers with policies, half have implemented or strengthened their commitments in the last two years. However, the three largest asset managers – Blackrock, State Street Global Advisors and Vanguard – either have weak policies or no policies. (Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis)

Philippines utility hit by troubles at existing plants: Semirara Mining and Power Corporation (SMPC) hopes to press ahead with the proposed 700 MW expansion of its Calaca power station despite losing two joint venture partners in the project over concern about the lack of transmission capacity. SMPC produced 16 million tonnes of coal in 2022, 99 per cent of the Philippines’ domestic coal production, some of which is exported to South Korea, Brunei and other Asian markets. SMPC also has 900 MW of existing coal capacity, which used 2.3 million tonnes of its own coal in 2022. But SMPC faces financial challenges with its coal plants. One of the 300 MW units at Calaca power station has suffered from excessive vibrations which the utility blames on defective equipment from General Electric. After significant outages, the reliable capacity of the unit has been downgraded from 300 MW to 190 MW. The other units have also suffered from unplanned outages and high coal costs. (Business Mirror, Semirara Mining and Power Corporation [Pdf])

South African coal companies aim to block shareholder resolutions: Two of South Africa’s largest coal producers, Exxaro Resources and Thungela Resources, have refused to present shareholder resolutions drafted by Just Share, Aeon Investment Management, and Fossil Free South Africa to shareholders. The companies are holding their annual general meetings on May 18 and May 31, respectively. The resolutions, which are similar to those filed with companies in Europe, Canada, the US and Australia, request the company report to shareholders on whether their lobbying activities and that of industry groups they belong to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Thungela dismissed the resolution, stating that information on membership of lobby groups is in its climate report. Just Share said the company’s disclosure did not match the content of the shareholder resolution. Exxaro ignored the shareholders’ resolution until after the 15-day deadline before the AGM had passed. (Just Share)

Vietnam aims to trim offshore wind in latest draft plan: A draft Vietnamese government document discussing its likely power plan proposes coal generation would increase from 21,400 MW at the end of 2020 to 30,100 MW by 2030. The plan’s latest version, discussed with potential foreign investors and diplomats, has proposed trimming the December 2022 offshore wind target of 7000 MW by 2030 to 6000 MW, with up to 90,000 MW by 2050. Vietnam currently has no offshore wind generation. The draft plan estimates total power generation capacity of 158,000 MW by 2030, up from 69,000 MW in 2020, to support an annual economic growth target of seven per cent. The draft plan reaffirms the aim to phase out coal generation by 2050. (Reuters)

US government aims to breathe new life into CCS for coal plants: The US Department of Energy is seeking to breathe new life into the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) on US coal plants with incentives ranging from grants, the federal 45Q tax credit of US$85 per tonne of captured carbon dioxide and new Environmental Protection Authority rules mandating the use of CCS on some coal and gas plants. The EPA is set to announce limits on carbon dioxide emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants based on its assessment of the “best system of emission reduction” under the Clean Air Act. There is currently one operating CCS plant on a commercial coal plant in the world, the small lignite-fired Boundary Dam project in Canada. The Petra Nova CCS project in Texas shut down in mid-2021, with NRG selling its half share of the US$1 billion plant in late 2022 for just US$3.5 million. Retrofitting CCS technology to an existing coal plant increases the cost of power, increases water consumption and cuts electricity dispatched to the grid by 20 per cent or more. The Sierra Club warned that most of the US power sector’s needs could be met without CCS and that subsidies for the technology risked leading to “increased emissions and stranded fossil assets.” (Utility Dive)

South Africa inches towards drafting a new energy plan: In response to legal action initiated by The Green Connection and the South African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI), President Cyril Ramaphosa has gazetted a notice that section 6 of the National Energy Act, which allows the development of an Integrated Energy Plan, will come into effect from 1 April 2024. The groups welcomed the decision but expressed concern that the 2024 start date was “kicking the can as far down the road as possible” and unnecessarily delayed the development of the energy plan to address the current crisis. The pro-coal Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe will oversee the plan’s development. Last weekend Eskom announced 19,333 MW of its coal fleet was offline due to breakdowns, while a further 4524 MW was offline due to scheduled maintenance. As a result of the breakdowns, Eskom announced Stage 6 load shedding restrictions, equal to 6000 MW of load, and expects this to “persist throughout the week”. (News24, News24)

Japanese utility to face shareholder resolutions again: Amundi, HSBC Asset Management and the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility have filed a shareholder resolution requesting J-Power set short and medium-term emissions reduction targets consistent with the Paris Agreement. A similar resolution in 2022 garnered 26 per cent of the shares voted. J-Power operates nine coal plants in Japan with a combined capacity of 8100 MW and is Japan’s largest operator of coal-fired power stations. ACCR said J-Power had not set a schedule for the retirement of its coal plants and instead is promoting its Blue Mission 2050 which promotes technologies such as ammonia co-firing to prolong the operation of the plants. (Reuters, Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility)

Review finds Japanese utilities power pledges lack integrity: A study of the climate pledges of 10 major Japanese industrial companies by the Climate Integrate, including power utilities JERA and J-POWER, has found that all of their policies “rank low in integrity”. JERA has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and J-Power aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The review argues that the lack of any coal phase-out targets by JERA and J-POWER means “that these companies fail to address what is required” for the power sector and can’t claim they are aligned with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global heating to a 1.5 °C increase. The report notes that instead of planning to close coal plants and shifting to renewables, JERA and J-Power emphasise developing technologies such as co-firing ammonia, hydrogen, and CCS. (Climate Integrate [pdf])


The Climate Wreckers Index: The superannuation industry’s $140 billion bet on climate destruction, Market Forces, May 2023.

This online report reveals Australia’s 30 biggest super funds increased investments in Australian and international companies most responsible for expanding fossil fuels to more than A$34 billion (US$23 billion) in 2022.

Milas Region Beyond Coal – The potential towards a just energy transition where no one is left behind in Turkey, Climate Action Network Europe, 350 Turkey and KARDOK, May 2023. (The report, which is only available in Turkish, is here.)

This report examines what a just transition might mean for Milas, a coal region in Turkey.