Dec 4, 2023 - Energy & Environment

Kerry: Coal power plants shouldn't be "permitted anywhere in the world"

John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate for the United States of America speaks onstage at the Health Day Opening Session at Al Waha Theatre during the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at Expo City Dubai on December 3, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry at the U.N. climate change conference COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Sunday. Photo: Mahmoud Khaled /COP28 via Getty Images

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said at COP28 Sunday that coal-fired power plants should no longer be permitted.

What he's saying: "The reality is the climate crisis and the health crisis are one and the same," Kerry said at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Dubai, citing a study that found coal "doubles the number of deaths" compared to other sources of air-carried pollution.

  • "Now, we don't need that necessarily to tell us we ought to be transitioning out of coal," he added.
  • "There shouldn't be any more coal fired power plants permitted anywhere in the world. That's how you can do something for health. And the reality is that we're not doing it."

The big picture: Kerry has been outspoken in his concerns, given coal is a particularly carbon-intensive fuel and new plants are unlikely to be shut down for many years, Axios' Andrew Freedman notes.

  • The U.S. and China are the world's two largest emitters and Kerry raised during meetings with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, ahead of COP28 his concerns about Beijing being the largest coal consumer, approving new coal power plants at a rapid rate.

Go deeper: Coal has lots of staying power

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