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Global shift away from coal ignored by lonely Turkey

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Creative Commons: Nitin Kirloskar, 2006

As countries and investors worldwide pull the plug on coal, Turkey is doing its best to keep the most polluting fossil fuel in business.

With plans to build 80 new coal power plants by 2023, and a UN climate pledge centred on a 116% emissions increase, Turkey is turning a blind eye to the toll coal is already taking on the health of its citizens and communities.

As G20 president, Turkey will host a meeting next month to discuss the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies; it can make a start by eliminating the up to US$1.6 billion it currently funnels into the coal industry, and investing instead in its huge solar and wind potential.

With the coal industry crumbling, getting out of this dirty energy source is a no brainer.

As projects continue to fail, commodity prices tumble, and analysts label half of global coal output as unprofitable, the world’s largest financial institutions are getting out of the risky energy source.

The US based Citigroup and Australia’s ANZ have both announced measures to cut back financing for coal, putting pressure on other banks to follow suit.

Meanwhile faced with the social impacts of coal, Swedish campaigners are examining options to buy lignite operations in Germany in a bid to prevent new mines.

And smart governments are already making a swift exit from coal.

The US, Germany, China, and the UK have all signalled a shift away from coal in favour of renewables.

Following an intense local campaign over air quality, even coal-loving Poland has now signed a law allowing local authorities to ban domestic coal, leaving those countries still betting on the out-dated energy source looking increasingly out of touch.

Even Turkey’s lonely quest may be thwarted as pressure increases on the French government to step up its calls for companies it part owns – such as Engie, which is heavily involved in Turkish coal – to get out of the black stuff.

With the door closing on coal, the renewables sector is on the rise.

Renewables are growing in the global energy mix, they are the ideal solution to energy poverty and are increasingly cost competitive with fossil fuels.

Wind power is now the cheapest energy source in Germany and the UK and in Turkey renewables can meet the country’s energy needs at no extra cost.

It has never made less sense to build fossil fuel power plants and as clean energy continues to displace polluting coal the co-benefits will be huge, including clean air,better health, reduced emissions and millions of jobs.

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