A new study released today at the UN climate conference underway in Warsaw, Poland finds that new coal plants cannot be built if we are to keep global warming below the 2° Celsius threshold.
That is, unless the coal industry can deploy commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS).
The report, titled: New unabated coal is not compatible with keeping global warming below 2°C, finds that of all the fossil fuels, coal is the easiest to substitute with renewable technologies and that:
"The current global trend of coal use is consistent with an emissions pathway above the IEA's [International Energy Agency] 6°C scenario. That risks an outcome that can only be described as catastrophic, beyond anything that mankind has experienced during its entire existence on earth."
In other words, CCS better work and work fast.
Down the road from the UN conference, the Polish government (of all people) is hosting the "International Coal and Climate Summit" which heavily features CCS experts and discussion panels.
There will likely be little talk at the coal summit of just how ridiculous the idea of commercially deployed CCS is becoming.
CCS technology has been a "future" solution for many years now, with governments abandoning experimental projects due to cost overruns and lack of progress. Governments like the United States, at the behest of the coal lobby, have pumped billions into CCS technology experiments, yet it continues to fail as a commercially viable option.
A recent study by the Global CCS Institute found that the number of large scale CCS projects has dropped to 65 from 75 over the last year. If this was the grand solution to the urgent issue of climate change, you would think we would be seeing more projects coming on line, not fewer.