May 19, 2022
Issue 417  |  View Past Issues
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

A new study estimates many of the existing coal mines will have to be closed early to have a one in two chance of meeting the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global heating to a 1.5°C increase. The paper argues that not approving new projects is insufficient to meet climate goals. The forthcoming G7 meeting may shed further light on the UK, US, Europe, and Japan’s proposals to accelerate the transition away from coal in Vietnam, Indonesia, and South Africa. Meanwhile, another new report warns a slew of coal and gas power projects touted for the Chattogram district in Bangladesh risk creating severe health and economic impacts.

In South Africa, a court has rejected a permit issued in 2016 for the expansion of the Tendele coal mine. In India, the government has seized on coal shortages at power plants as the pretext to allow further expansions of existing coal mines without further environmental assessment or community consultation. It has also directed state utilities to increase the volume of expensive imported coal consumed, a measure provoking opposition from some a union and a state government.

Bob Burton


Banks bet big on coal in Indonesia, bucking the global shift away from fossil fuel

Loans from banks – including Citigroup, BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered – and leasing firms to coal mining companies in Indonesia are increasing with soaring global coal prices, writes Hans Nicholas Jong in Mongabay.

Vanguard’s farcical engagement with coal miners Adani, Whitehaven and New Hope

In its recently released 2021 Investment Stewardship Report, the global investment management firm Vanguard provides case studies on the Adani Group and Australian thermal coal miners Whitehaven Coal and New Hope Group. The case studies are a depressing admission by Vanguard that its engagement efforts with these coal mining companies are entirely pointless, writes Market Forces.

These indigenous activists stood up for their rights and were forced to flee Russia

Yana Tannagasheva, a member of the Shor indigenous group in southwestern Siberia, fled Russia in 2018 after protesting against coal pollution. She is a member of the International Committee of Indigenous Peoples of Russia, which seeks to give voice to the challenges confronting indigenous peoples in Russia, writes Emily Standfield in Broadview.

Top News

Study argues many operating coal mines must close early: A new study estimates that achieving the Paris Agreement goal of keeping the global temperature increase to 1.5°C may require the early closure of a “significant portion” of coal mines and other fossil fuel projects already operating. The study modelled resources in nine of the world’s largest coal-producing countries and 25,000 oil and gas fields. The study’s central prediction was that these projects could produce 936 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide with 47 per cent from coal, 35 per cent from oil and 18 per cent from gas. The authors estimate achieving the 1.5°C target with a 50 per cent probability would require leaving 40 per cent of the developed reserves of fossil fuels unextracted. (Guardian, Environmental Research Letters)

South African court overturns permit for mine expansion: In the High Court of South Africa, Judge Noluntu Bam has declared invalid a 2016 decision to allow Tendele Coal Mining to expand the Somkhele Coal Mine in KwaZulu-Natal province. In his ruling, Bam was scathing about the company’s flawed public consultation procedures and its failure to obtain consent from affected communities. Tendele’s attitude during the scoping phase of the project, Bam wrote in his judgement, was “offensive”. In 2018 the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, rejected an appeal by residents opposed to the mine expansion. The court decision requires Tendele to restart the community consultation process and for Mantashe to consider the proposal afresh. The mine expansion proposal fuelled tensions in the local community with the murder of environmental activist Fikile Ntshangase in October 2020. The houses of two mine opponents burnt down earlier this year. (Mongabay, High Court of South Africa [Pdf])

European Court rules against Bulgaria over coal plant pollution: The European Court of Justice has ruled that Bulgaria has breached the European Commission’s Ambient Air Quality Directive by failing to curb sulphur dioxide pollution from four lignite-fired power plants. The plants at the centre of the dispute are the 250 megawatt (MW) Brikel power plant and three Maritsa Iztok complex plants, which have a combined capacity of 2138 MW. An analysis of NASA data by Greenpeace India and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air found Bulgaria ranks as the worst sulphur dioxide polluter in the European Union. Client Earth, which represented Greenpeace Bulgaria in the case, says the court’s decision is a warning to the Bulgarian Government to comply with EU air pollution standards or risk the European Commission imposing fines. (Balkan Green Energy News, ClientEarth)

G7 proposes expanding coal transition fund to include India: The meeting later this month of G7 environment, climate and energy ministers may extend funding to support countries’ transitions away from coal to renewables to include India and Senegal. At the COP26 conference in late 2021, the US and UK committed US$8.5 billion in total to support South Africa’s transition away from coal with hopes an agreement would be finalised by the end of this year. They also expressed interest in supporting similar projects in Indonesia and Vietnam. However, concerns have recently been raised that the Indonesian Government is split over a transition away from coal generation. Japan and the US are the lead countries supporting the Indonesian project, with the UK and EU as the primary contributors to a transition strategy for Vietnam. The US and Germany are the lead countries for a transition strategy for India. (Nikkei) 

India eases environmental assessment rules for coal mine expansions: India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change will allow coal mines that were previously permitted to expand production by up to 40 per cent without requiring environmental clearance and public consultation to expand by a further half within the existing lease area. The ministry claimed the policy change was because of the shortage of coal for power generation and the need to increase the “production of coal without any further delay”. Local communities and environmental groups have condemned the change as unlikely to boost production in the short term but likely to impose high costs on local communities and the environment in the longer term. Sunil Dahiya from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said the crisis at power plants is not due to a shortage of coal but the failure of power plants to ensure adequate stockpiles. (The Wire, Times of India)

Indian Supreme Court orders update on ‘coal scam’ cases: India’s Supreme Court has ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to file a report by July 15 on the status of the investigation of 54 money laundering cases opened after a scandal over coal allocations. In 2014 the Supreme Court ruled that 214 coal blocks had been illegally allocated to private companies between 1993 and 2010. Operating projects were turned over to state-owned companies, with other projects put out for allocation via a competitive tender process. The court had appointed Bharat Parashar as a special judge to handle the cases. Last year the court appointed two new judges to take over the 41 cases before the court. (Times of India, Economic Times)

US court sentences four over coal railway protest: A New Hampshire judge has ordered four climate activists to serve suspended jail sentences over a 2019 protest which blocked the delivery of coal to the Merrimack power plant in New Hampshire. The four were found guilty of two charges of criminal trespass. Judge Andrew Schulman sentenced two activists to six months in jail, suspended on the condition they remain of “good behaviour” for five years. The other two protestors were sentenced to serve four-month sentences, suspended for three years. All four were ordered to pay fines, compensate Pan Am Railway for the cost of the delay and not engage in or encourage others to participate in civil disobedience protests for the duration of their sentence. (InDepthNH)

Canada rules out arbitration over transboundary mine pollution: Global Affairs Canada, the government’s foreign affairs agency, has ruled out referring the selenium pollution from Teck’s coal mines in British Columbia to the International Joint Commission (IJC), which handles transboundary disputes between the US and Canada. For the last decade, First Nations groups on both sides of the border, including the Ktunaxa Nation Council, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Kootenai Tribes of Idaho, have called on the US to refer the dispute over Teck’s pollution to the IJC. If both nations agree to refer an issue to the IJC, the commission will appoint a panel of experts with equal representation from each country. The First Nations bodies were stunned when they received an email in early May stating Canada had decided to reject the proposal to refer the matter to the IJC. (Flathead Beacon, East Kootenay News Online, Wildsight)


Australia: The proposed Walton coal mine in Queensland has lapsed after Aquila Resources withdrew its application to prepare an environmental impact statement for the project.

Australia: Government pledges a further A$3 million (US$2.1 million) to an affiliate of the US-based 8 Rivers Capital for a brown coal-to-hydrogen project.

India: JSW Infrastructure commissions the 30 million tonnes a year Paradip East Quay coal terminal.

Mozambique: Five hundred workers go on strike after Vulcan, a subsidiary of the Jindal Group, takes over the Moatize mine from Vale.

Romania: A barge carrying 1700 tonnes of Russian coal sailing from Russia to Bosnia has sunk near the Port of Constanta in Romania.

Slovakia: Slovakia confirms it will proceed with the 266 MW Novacky lignite power plant closure by the end of 2023.

Companies + Markets

Three asset managers challenge Japanese utility over coal: Three major European financial services firms — Amundi, hedge fund Man Group and HSBC Asset Management — have filed resolutions calling on the Japanese utility J-Power to disclose a plan to achieve credible emissions-reduction targets. J-Power shareholders will consider the resolutions at the annual general meeting on June 28. In April, Japanese NGO Kiko Network and Australian NGO Market Forces submitted shareholder resolutions to four companies listed on the Japanese stock exchange: SMBC Group, Mitsubishi Corporation, TEPCO and Chubu Electric. (Reuters, Kiko Network)

Eskom CEO warns load shedding won’t ease until new capacity is built: Eskom has announced further load shedding during the evening peak load period could run for up to a week due to breakdowns with a coal unit at each of the Arnot, Majuba, Hendrina and Kusile power stations and two coal units at the Lethabo power station. Eskom said it has 17,810 MW of capacity offline due to breakdowns with a further 2389 MW unavailable due to scheduled maintenance. Eskom CEO, André de Ruyter, said load shedding wouldn’t ease until an additional 4,000–6,000 MW of general capacity is available. A draft economic policy document to be submitted to the African National Congress’s annual party conference proposes designating new power plants as strategic infrastructure projects to expedite environmental approval. Two proposed coal plants have foundered after legal challenges and the inability to attract finance. (Business Day, Fin24, Eskom)

Opposition grows to Indian Government coal import directive: The All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) has expressed alarm that the Modi government’s requirement for power utilities to import 10 per cent of coal requirements will further undermine the financial position of distribution utilities. The Modi government set the 10 per cent import target to bolster power sector supplies. However, the AIPEF wants the national government to compensate the states rather than forcing distribution utilities and consumers to bear the cost. The Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gerlot, has called on the Modi government to drop its requirement for state utilities to import coal, which he said was three times the cost of domestic coal. (Financial Express, Times of India)

German utility takes writedown on cancellation of Russian coal contract: RWE, a major German power utility, has announced it has recorded an 850 million (US$894 million) writedown over the cancellation of a Russian coal supply contract after the invasion of Ukraine. RWE said the trigger for the writedown was the UK Government sanctions against Russian Railways, which came into effect at the end of March. It has also ruled out new contracts with Russian suppliers. RWE no longer operates coal power plants in the UK but has a portfolio of gas and renewables projects. It also operates two coal plants in the Netherlands with a combined capacity of 2370 MW. RWE had contracts that ran through to 2025 for the delivery of 12 million tonnes a year of Russian coal, but deliveries have been stopped. (Reuters, RWE)

Adani demanded a higher tariff as an Indian state sought power: As recent heatwaves hit India, Haryana – which adjoins New Delhi – was locked in negotiations with significant power generators, including Adani, to provide increased generation. Adani refused to supply the 1424 MW of power from its 4800 MW Mundra power plant in Gujarat under its power purchase agreement unless it was paid a higher price to offset the costs of imported coal. Tata Power has also reneged on its commitment to supply electricity to Haryana at tariffs contracted in its power purchase agreement with the state government. (Adani Watch)

Study finds shift to cleaner steel would leave proposed UK mine stranded: A study by Friends of the Earth UK estimates that three-quarters of the coal-fired blast furnace steelmaking capacity in the European Union will reach the end of its operational life by 2030. The group argues that with the owners of two-thirds of existing capacity announcing a shift to cleaner production methods, EU demand for coking coal is set to decline. The Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, will announce his decision by July 7 on planning consent for West Cumbria Mining’s (WCM) proposed new underground metallurgical coal mine in Cumbia. The company has claimed that 13 per cent of its production would be for domestic steel producers. However, the Materials Processing Institute chief executive recently said there was no demand from the industry for the project. WCM has proposed the mine would operate until 2049. (Guardian, Friends of the Earth)

Report identifies Bangladesh district as a global carbon hotspot: A report by Market Forces, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon and Waterkeepers Bangladesh says that 20,000 MW of proposed coal and gas projects have been proposed to be built in Chattogram division this decade. The projects are equal to two-thirds of the total new capacity proposed for the country and would emit 1.38 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide over their operating life. The report notes that many of the project consortiums include Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi, JERA and Marubeni. The Japan International Cooperation Agency is also preparing Bangladesh’s energy and power plans. The Matarbari 1 coal power plant is currently being built by Sumitomo Corporation but has ruled out involvement in the proposed 1200 MW Matarbari II project. (The Daily Star, Market Forces [Pdf])


“Coal from Colombia an alternative?”, Deutsche Welle, May 17, 2022.

This 3-minute video provides an insight into the social, health and environmental impacts of Glencore’s Cerrejon mine, the largest thermal coal project in the country.