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Coal Plant Developers Still Building, Investing Despite Paris Agreement

“Since the Paris Climate Agreement was negotiated in December 2015, the world’s installed coal-fired capacity grew by 92,000 MW—an increase equal to the combined operating coal fleets of Russia and Japan,” according to a report released Thursday by a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) called CoalExit.Org. The coalition urges banks and other investors to divest from coal companies.

The coalition, led by German environmental group Urgewald, condemns the building of new coal power plants “as an assault on the Paris climate goals.” The report provides an update on the construction activities and plans of the world’s top 120 coal power plant developers. Among the report’s key findings:

  • Currently, 1,380 new coal plants or units are planned or under development in 59 countries. If built, these plants would add 672,124 MW to the global coal plant fleet—an increase of 33 percent.
  • The top 120 developers account for 68 percent of all coal power plants in the construction “pipeline.”
  • The world’s largest coal plant developer is China’s National Energy Investment Group (NEI), which aims to build 37,837 MW of new coal plants.
  • The number 2 and 3 worldwide are the China Huadian Corporation with 25,097 MW and India’s National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) with 25,056 MW of new coal capacity in the pipeline.
  • The world’s top 120 coal plant developers are headquartered in 42 countries, but almost 1/5 of the companies on the list have their headquarters in China.
  • Out of the 59 countries where new coal plants are planned, 11 countries have only 600 MW or less of installed coal capacity and 16 have no coal-fired capacity whatsoever.
  • How many of the planned, announced, or permitted new coal projects actually move forward, is almost always a question of financing—hence the report “is aimed at the finance industry.”

To what extent is President Trump responsible for coal's continuing economic viability despite the Paris Agreement? An important question but outside the scope of the CoalExit.Org study. Interestingly, no American companies are listed among those undertaking or planning construction of new coal power plants (h/t Dylan Brown, E&E News).  ​