Six Red Lines for Kerry’s Coal Decommissioning Plan

A scheme unveiled by US Climate Envoy John Kerry at COP27 to rapidly close coal-fired power plants in developing countries risks accusations of greenwashing. The Energy Transition Accelerator seeks to support the renewable energy transition by financing the decommissioning of operational coal plants through the sale of carbon credits to corporations. But a new report has warned that calculating emissions offsets as equivalent to plants’ cumulative emissions based on their technical operating lifetimes would “severely” exaggerate avoided emissions. “If partner governments use it to issue carbon credits, the ETA will be left open to greenwashing accusations,” said think tank Universal Owner Initiatives, calling instead for a form of discounted offsetting to provide a “more realistic” estimate. The report set out five further ‘red lines’, including the avoidance of bilateral negotiations with partner governments for plant purchase, which could inflate their value sixfold. If badly designed, the ETA could also inflate the market value of existing plants through an influx of new capital, inadvertently secure investment for future coal plants, and extend the life of plants. Following the announcement, last November, climate policy consultancy firm Climate Advisers estimated that the ETA could mobilise between US$77-US$139 billion by 2030, mitigating 1.3-2.3 billion tonnes of CO2 and generating US$3.8-US$6.9 billion in international climate adaptation investments.

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