Stories by Justin Guay

Expert Voices

Decline in global coal use still too slow to meet Paris targets

A cow eats grass on a field near the French energy giant EDF powerplant of Cordemais, one of the five last coal powerplant in France on September 27, 2018 from Lavau-sur-Loire, western France.
A cow near one of the last five coal plants in France, in Cordemais, on Sep. 27, 2018. The French government plans to close all coal plants by 2022. Photo: Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

For the first time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has projected declining coal demand from 2021 to 2022 as well as overall flat consumption through 2023. The IEA also found that, despite recent small increases in both 2017 and 2018, world consumption still likely peaked in 2014.

The big picture: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report, OECD countries must eliminate coal by 2030 in order to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius. Now that global coal consumption may have peaked, the question is how fast OECD countries will move from this plateau to absolute declines.

Expert Voices

U.S. firms face mounting risks over coal investments

The New York headquarters of the BlackRock investment management firm on Friday, February 5, 2016.
The New York headquarters of the BlackRock investment management firm on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. Photo: Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

U.S. investment firm BlackRock owns more coal reserves through its investments in publicly listed companies, shares and bonds in coal plant developers than anyone else in the world, according two new pieces of analysis.

The big picture: The U.S. holds over 35% of institutional investment for the coal industry, the largest share in the world. And in recent years, U.S. investors have started to lag behind leading European institutions when it comes to climate-friendly investing: AXA, UBS and c all have policies in place to restrict investments in thermal coal and offer far less coal-intense index funds.

Expert Voices

Bucking global trend, U.S. insurers still underwriting coal

An insurance adjuster walks through a Coffey Park home that was destroyed by the Tubbs Fire on October 23, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California.
An insurance adjuster walks through a Coffey Park home that was destroyed by the Tubbs Fire on October 23, 2017, in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Seven global insurance companies — including the world's largest primary insurers and reinsurers — have now stopped or limited insuring coal projects. These moves come at a time when the costs of climate-related impacts continue to grow.

Why it matters: The insurance industry is a key and often overlooked player in the financial system that continues to enable coal industry expansion, as well as a bellwether for broader systemic risks climate change is expected to pose. Although the international industry has begun to act, the U.S. industry continues to lag.

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