Another win for coal

COAL is set to play a significant role in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, part of United Nations’ efforts to overhaul global finance practices and generate investments for tackling a range of economic, social and environmental challenges over the next 15 years.
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Anthony Barich

Earlier this month, 193 UN member states attending the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa agreed to what has been hailed as a ground-breaking deal.

The agreement provides a foundation for implementing the 17 global sustainable development agenda that world leaders are expected to adopt in New York this September, before reaching a binding agreement at the UN climate negotiations in Paris in December.

Many of the initiatives in the agreement – which set out how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will be adopted in September will be implemented – are relevant to the energy sector.

Efforts will be made to share technology improvements, infrastructural issues and improvements will be tackled on a global scale and clean energy technologies including CCS will receive private and public funding boosts.

Meanwhile, the agreement will also see fossil fuel subsidies ended and developed countries will be encouraged to fulfil their pledge of $US100 million ($137.46 million) towards climate mitigation efforts in the developing world.

“Coal is a resource available domestically and at low-cost for many of the countries that will benefit from the SDGs, so the fact that CCS gained a specific mention in the AAAA suggests coal will have a significant role in meeting these energy objectives,” World Coal Association Benjamin Sporton said.

However, the AAAA has received a mixed reaction from commentators globally.

Sporton said the document’s particular achievement was to improve financing opportunities to meet the SDGs, including those relating to energy.

“A key issue is the link between energy access and social and economic development, it is estimated that at present power shortages in Africa have a 2-4% impact on the continent’s growth each year,” Sporton said.

“To provide universal energy access, which would be a vitally important step towards lifting millions of people out of poverty and boosting economic development, $55 billion dollars a year is forecast to be required through to 2030.”

The AAAA builds on two previous Financing for Development conferences in Mexico and Qatar, and conference secretary-general Wu Hongbo said the agreement would improve the lives of people everywhere.

The frameworks delivered will support countries as they take ownership of their own sustainable development strategies.

The agreement of the new SDGs in September is the next key milestone in the UN calendar, and the agreements made at the AAAA have set the foundations for their continued implementation.

In the outcome document, countries agreed to an array of measures aimed at widening the revenue base, improving tax collection, and combatting tax evasion and illicit financial flows.

Countries also reaffirmed their commitment to official development assistance, particularly for the least developed countries, and pledged to increase South-South cooperation.

The conference also included about 200 side events, where governments and other stakeholders announced additional commitments.

These included additional aid for capacity building in the area of taxation; financing through development banks including $400 billion from the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank Group, and the International Monetary Fund, as well as establishment of new international development banks.