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UNFCCC Executive Secretary to Coal Industry: Transform and Diversify

Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary19 November 2013: Speaking to the International Coal and Climate Summit (ICCS), which met in Warsaw, Poland, from 18-19 November in parallel to the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 19) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, said the coal industry “can and must radically transform and diversify” to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

She emphasized that her attendance at the meeting was neither “a tacit approval of coal use, nor a call for the immediate disappearance of coal.” Figueres urged the coal industry to: assess the financial risks of business as usual; anticipate increasing regulation, growing finance restrictions and diminishing public acceptance; and leverage technology to reduce emissions immediately across the entire coal output chain. She also said the industry must diversity its portfolio beyond coal, emphasizing that most existing coal reserves will have to stay in the ground, and called on the industry to “look past next quarter's bottom line and see the next generation's bottom line.”

The Summit was hosted by the Polish Ministry of Economy and the World Coal Association (WCA), and brought together policy makers, business leaders, NGOs, researchers and others representatives from the energy, environment and technology sectors to discuss how coal can continue to play a central role in global development while meeting the challenges posed by climate change.  The event included a high-level dialogue on coal, technologies and climate change in the next decade, as well as sessions on: clean coal policies; the policy context for clean coal in the EU; breakthroughs in clean coal technologies; financing clean coal. A technology forum also was held on opportunities and breakthroughs for clean coal technologies. [UNFCCC Press Release] [UNFCCC Executive Secretary's Keynote Address] [ICCS Website] [WCA Press Release]