Aug 27, 2019

IEA: New coal plants are a "blind spot" in climate change debate

Amy Harder, author of Generate

Coal-fired power station in Hanover, Germany. Photo: plus49/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

The International Energy Agency (IEA) will analyze the climate change and economic costs of the world’s coal plants in its 2019 world energy outlook, set for release in November, the agency's top official told Axios in a recent interview.

Why it matters: "There is an important problem here," said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. "The existing infrastructure provides a lifeline to people in developing countries, but at the same time, it’s the single most important driver of global carbon dioxide emissions."

By the numbers:

  • Today’s coal plants emit more than 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide, which amounts to 1/3 of all energy-related CO2 emissions, Birol said.
  • Coal plants in Europe and the United States are around 40 years old, but ones in Asia are far newer — closer to 11 years old — and still produce profits for the companies that operate them.
  • Those plants in particular are what Birol calls a “blind spot” in our climate and energy debate, given they are likely to be emitting for decades longer.

The big picture: IEA’s analysis will include a detailed, plant-level analysis of all the world’s coal plants, looking at what their "continued operation would mean for global emissions, energy security and costs,” an IEA spokesman said. IEA is an intergovernmental organization funded partly by its 30 member countries.

Go deeper: Why climate change is so hard to tackle

Go deeper

Primary elections test impact of protests, coronavirus on voting

Election official at a polling place at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the midst of a global pandemic and national protests over the death of George Floyd, eight states and the District of Columbia held primary elections on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, needs to win 425 of the 479 delegates up for grabs in order to officially clinch the nomination. There are a number of key down-ballot races throughout the country as well, including a primary in Iowa that could determine the fate of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day, prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Protesters were still out en masse even as curfews set in in New York City and Washington, D.C.. Large crowds took a knee at Arizona's state capitol nearly an hour before the statewide 8 p.m. curfew, and a peaceful march dispersed in Chicago ahead of the city's 9 p.m. curfew.

RNC officially plans to move 2020 convention to new city

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and their families on the final night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 21, 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

The Republican National Committee is scrambling for a new convention host city after President Trump said North Carolina’s coronavirus restrictions will make Charlotte unworkable for the crowds he’s counting on.

Driving the news: The organization is still hoping to conduct the convention's "official business" in Charlotte, an RNC spokesperson said. But the part that most Americans think about the convention — the spectacle of the speakers and the president accepting the Republican nomination itself — will be held in a different state with more relaxed COVID-19 laws.