#BreakFree2016 – If 6 countries would stop exporting coal, that would be very helpful

Just 6 countries: The United States, Colombia, South Africa, Russia, Indonesia and Australia. If somehow we could sprinkle (perhaps shake) a little common sense, the rest of the world would be deprived of imports of the most polluting and CO2-intensive fossil fuel – coal – and all of Earth would benefit.

#BreakFree2016 - the world needs to break free from coal, here's how
To stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius the world needs to break free from coal. Here’s a little practical help from the IEA to see how

So, how many personal friends could you ask in – say – Australia, one of the countries that supported the 1.5 degrees climate target during the COP21 United Nations climate summit in Paris, December last year, to just break free, entirely? Let’s not forget we have an atmospheric carbon budget of just a couple of years left – so really, dear Australian Environment Minister Greg (“I think it is very important to reference 1.5 degrees”) Hunt, if you meant any of it, you would leave the rest of that coal in the ground, where it’s harmless and safe.

Fortunately this one wonderful IEA chart in all its simplicity shows another couple of keys to solving the climate crisis. Here’s an even simpler list: If (1) all of OECD countries and (2) China and (3) India would stop importing and or consuming coal – that would also be quite helpful.

Overly simplistic? Well – sometimes that can be good. And of course this chart shows a little bit more still. For instance that almost all of global coal transports go overseas. This not only means that the global coal infrastructure is dependent on shipping companies and their financial investors, but also quite simply of harbours.

Coal plants, coal harbours – and of course coal mines, just don’t fit #1point5

After France, Gemany and the Netherlands, also the entire European Union expressed support for the 1.5 degree target in Paris. That means in this very long list of global coal terminals we can select all the ports that are “coal import ports” – then look for the ones that are in Europe, and simply close them down – because otherwise 1.5 would have been a very, very empty promise, wouldn’t it, dear Sharon Dijkstra, Dutch State Secretary for the Environment and head of the climate delegation of the Netherlands, who in Paris said “we need to get to 1.5 degrees – eventually” [no one understood that last word, as of course atmospheric CO2 works cumulative]. The Netherlands, that tiny seemingly innocent yet exceptionally vulnerable low-lying river delta country that just happens to house two of Europe’s largest coal import harbours, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

Closing these two major European coal ports is not just a rational conclusion of the 1.5 degrees support expressed by the Dutch government, but would in turn also greatly help next-door neighbour Germany – Europe’s leading economy – to become entirely Coal Free, after of course we’ve closed those two remaining silly and very old-fashioned lignite coal mines (Rhineland and Lausitz) that somehow must have escaped the attention of the German lead climate delegate, Jochen Flasbarth, when he said, in Paris that ‘the 1.5 degrees climate target must be mentioned’ in the UN climate deal (adding that “2 degrees was too weak”).

Well then, dear Greg Hunt, Sharon Dijkstra, Jochen Flasbarth, we have good news: We agree with you.

See you all in May!

© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org

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