Blog / The Powering Past Coal Alliance: What is it, and why is it so important?

The Powering Past Coal Alliance: What is it, and why is it so important?

10th June 2020

There’s no denying that renewable energy has increased dramatically in the last few years – both through generation, awareness, and use. As the UK, Europe and the rest of the world are demonstrating the importance of a swift transition away from fossil fuels and towards lower carbon alternatives, deployment of renewable sources has rocketed.

As this has happened, there has been striking change in the UK’s energy mix. The pace of this change is remarkable, with what feels like new energy records being set every month now. Just last month we wrote about the latest coal-free record – the UK’s longest ever period without coal burn. And the latest Drax Electric Insights report showed further records with wind, solar and biomass production.

What is the Powering Past Coal Alliance?

With so much good work already done in the shift towards renewable sources, a voluntary coalition – the Powering Past Coal Alliance - came together in 2017 to lead the push for global, coal-free energy generation. The Powering Past Coal Alliance’s mission is to end unabated coal use.

Composed of businesses, charitable institutions, environmental agencies, countries and states, the Alliance aims to go above and beyond the targets set out by the Paris Agreement and to achieve “the rapid phase-out of traditional coal power”.

The commitment, informed by science-based benchmarks shows that EU and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries must phase out unbated coal-fired electricity generation no later than 2030, with the rest of the world no later than 2050 to limit global warming and the impacts of climate change.

Co-founded by the UK and Canada at the UN Conference of Parties in November 2017 (COP23), the Powering Past Coal Alliance set a target to sign-up 50 members by November 2018 (the date of COP24) but reached its target within just six months. And just this month, it celebrated its 100th member.

Members of the alliance include Costa Rica, Ireland, and Fiji, as well as several businesses, regional governments and a philanthropic organisation in Bloomberg Philanthropies. See the full list of signatory countries and businesses.

Drax’s commitment to ending coal

One of the signatories to the Powering Past Coal Alliance is Opus Energy’s parent company, Drax Group. As the owner and operator of the largest power station in Western Europe, supplying 12% of the UK’s renewable power, Drax’s involvement is significant.

As the UK looks to continue its decarbonisation and meet the government target of a coal-free energy system by 2025, Drax Group’s decision to join the Powering Past Coal alliance underlines the group’s commitment to change the way energy is generated, supplied and used for a better future. Taking this commitment even further, this year Drax were the first company in the world to announce an ambition to be carbon negative by 2030.

Earlier this year, Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO, announced that Drax will be coal-free ahead of the 2025 target “Ending the use of coal at Drax is a landmark in our continued efforts to transform the business and become a world-leading carbon negative company by 2030. Drax’s move away from coal began some years ago and I’m proud to say we’re going to finish the job well ahead of the Government’s 2025 deadline.”

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