By Holly Krutka
Executive Editor, Cornerstone
In late 2015 world leaders took a unified step toward addressing climate change with the culmination of the COP21 agreement in Paris. Although implementation will be far from simple, this agreement demonstrates that the world is largely ready to collaborate to meet our common objectives on climate. One of the most challenging aspects of the negotiations leading up to the agreement was how developing countries could participate in the agreement without sacrificing their development goals. Thus, the involvement of developing nations throughout the negotiation process was particularly important.
Asia is home to about 60% of the world’s population and China and India alone make up about half of Asia’s population. While contributing a relatively small fraction of historical emissions, the expanding population and rising living standards throughout the region are poised to increase emissions dramatically.
Few would argue against increasing access to low-emissions, reliable, and affordable energy in developing Asia can improve the quality of life for billions of people. China is leading the way, as the country has achieved full electrification over the last few decades and is now working to grow its fleet of modern, low-emissions coal-fired power plants, in addition to growth in nuclear power, natural gas, and renewables.
Other developing countries in Asia are using coal to fill their increasing energy
demand as well. As coal use grows in developing Asia, especially in India and ASEAN, there is an opportunity to apply the best coal technologies—including high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal-fired power plants. As described in one article in this issue, to avoid ”lock-in” of carbon emissions from new power plants, researchers in Japan and Taiwan are advancing research to find safe sub-sea CO2 storage sites.
HELE coal technologies and carbon capture and storage have the potential to dramatically reduce the footprint of new power plants being built in the developing world. The Paris agreement itself recognizes that technology transfer for a myriad of low-emissions technologies is vital to meeting the goals set by the agreement.
Technology transfer and communication are closely tied and it is my hope that Cornerstone is supporting this process by starting conversations internationally on the research, development, and demonstration of clean coal technologies.
For this reason, I write this letter with a somewhat heavy heart. This is my last issue as Executive Editor of Cornerstone. For the last three years, I’ve been honored to serve in this role and to help tell the story of the technologies and opportunities for coal around the world. Even as I step down to focus more closely on technology development and deployment, I’ll continue to tell the story of coal and plan to do so for the rest of my career.
On behalf of the editorial team, I hope you enjoy this issue of Cornerstone, and thank you for your continued readership and engagement. The challenges facing the energy community can be daunting, but I firmly believe that technologies can and will lead us to success as they have done so readily in the past.
The content in Cornerstone does not necessarily reflect the views of the World Coal Association or its members.
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