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25 Mar 2022

Ruairi Casey, Aljazeera

Increased coal demand intensified by Russian invasion of Ukraine threatens EU’s legally binding 2030 climate target, say experts

Will Ukraine war revitalise coal – world’s dirtiest fossil fuel? 25 March 2022

...Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the unprecedented economic sanctions that have followed have thrown the global energy market into chaos, sending fossil fuel prices soaring and raising questions in many countries about whether climate ambitions need to be softened in order to keep the lights on...

To adapt to the continent’s energy crisis, coal appears an obvious short-term choice given a lack of existing liquid natural gas infrastructure. France has temporarily allowed power plants to burn more coal, Italy has raised the possibility of reviving decommissioned coal plants, and Germany has announced plans to build its coal reserves and signalled its coal phase-out date may have to be delayed.

“This is a bit of a stress test to the way countries have been managing energy transition,” said Pieter de Pous, climate and energy policy adviser at climate change think-tank E3G. “Countries that were doing this properly, avoiding gas as a bridge fuel option, are in a better situation than those who really were betting on gas to get out of coal”...

Russia is the world’s third-largest supplier of thermal coal, used mainly for power generation. Other leading producers, including Australia and South Africa, are already experiencing increased demand from both the Asian and European markets, far outstripping available supply...

“Renewables are still the cheaper source of new capacity in most countries…those fundamental dynamics haven’t changed,” de Pous told Al Jazeera. “They will continue to mean that’s where the direction of travel is going.”