Story at a glance:

  • Carbon Tracker finds that five countries will make up 80 percent of the world’s new coal plants.
  • The coal plants will generate a total of 300 gigawatts of energy, enough power to run the U.K. more than three times over.
  • Other countries around the world are planning to phase out coal this decade, but China is expanding its operations.

China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam are planning to build 80 percent of the world’s new coal plants, according to a new report. 

Carbon Tracker, a London-based nonprofit think tank researching the effects of climate change on financial markets, released its findings Wednesday.

The five Asian countries — including Japan whose prime minister attended the Group of Seven Summit where world leaders discussed meeting climate goals and phasing in sustainable initiatives — are building more than 600 coal power units despite renewable energy being cheaper, The Guardian reported.


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The coal plants will generate a total of 300 gigawatts of energy, enough power to run the U.K. more than three times over. This comes as climate experts at the U.N. recently called for all new coal plants to be canceled, according to The Guardian. 

“These last bastions of coal power are swimming against the tide, when renewables offer a cheaper solution that supports global climate targets,” Catharina Hillenbrand von der Neyen, author of the report, said. “Investors should steer clear of new coal projects, many of which are likely to generate negative returns from the outset.”

As Changing America previously reported, most of the richest countries, including Japan, have pledged to divest in coal-powered industries and help developing countries set a standard in renewable energy — but many have not met that goal. 

While these five countries continue to put money into coal plants, other nations are accelerating plans to phase them out. The U.K. government has announced plans to bring forward the deadline for coal plants to be decommissioned by one year earlier than planned, to 2024, according to The Guardian.

“Coal no longer makes sense financially or environmentally. Governments should now create a level playing field which allows renewables to grow at least cost, using post-COVID stimulus spending as an opportunity to lay the foundations for a sustainable energy system,” said Hillenbrand Von Der Neyen.

China continues to be the world’s leading coal investor. The country aims to boost operation by increasing its existing 1,100-gigawatt coal-fired power plants by an additional 187 gigawatts, according to the report. 

The nonprofit says solar and wind farms generate 85 percent cheaper electricity compared to coal plants. By 2024, renewable energy will completely outperform coal power, according to Carbon Tracker.

The report also says that renewable energy in India and Indonesia could outcompete coal by 2024. And in Japan and Vietnam, coal will become uneconomic compared to renewable energy by 2022. 


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Published on Jun 30, 2021