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International Climate Program

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Locked-in: The Financial Risks of New Coal-fired Power Plants in Today's Volatile International Coal Market

Coal "lock-in," rather than rational investments in coal power, is one of the largest global threats today. This lock-in results from high capital costs and long asset life spans associated with coal-fired power plant investments. Over the past six years, large-scale public opposition, mounting costs, and dramatic changes in the energy market have successfully averted an irrational coal lock-in in the U.S. and the EU. However, excessive reliance on coal is now becoming a serious economic problem and a long-term environmental and public health threat in China, India, and other parts of the developing world.

While the environmental and human health impacts of coal plant investments are increasingly well known, the financial impacts are not. This report examines the wide-ranging risks that coal investments force countries to bear in today's rapidly changing energy market. Understanding and incorporating these risks in decision-making is particularly important given the potentially untenable opportunity cost of financial flows that could otherwise be directed to increasingly affordable clean energy and energy-efficiency alternatives.

Download the full report. (2 MB PDF file)

Coal Narratives: Voices from the Frontlines of the Global Struggle

The coal industry is racing to ensure its place in our world's future before safer, healthier, and cheaper clean energy takes hold. Ill-equipped to compete and survive in the emerging clean-energy economy, it must rely on political clout, misleading public relations campaigns, and externalizing the devastating human health, social, and environmental costs of coal. In community after community around the world, this has stirred a toxic brew of deadly pollution, lost livelihoods, intimidation, and corruption.

This publication gives voice to the brave activists from around the world whose daily struggles bear witness to this ongoing tragedy as they battle this ravenous, dirty, dangerous, and outdated industry. Rather than bow down and submit in the face of the coal industry's onslaught, these activists are rallying communities across the world to band together and fight back. Their valiant struggle comes at a time when clean energy is being rapidly deployed, benefitting communities and ecosystems alike–an inconvenient truth the coal industry is fighting to suppress as it tries to cling to survival in the 21st century.

From Asia to Appalachia, Melbourne to the Mediterranean, Kalimantan to Kosovo, communities around the world are issuing a clarion call to end the coal industry's wanton destruction and seize the momentous opportunity clean energy presents. These are their stories.

Download the report here. (PDF file)