Advocating for Coal Phase-out and Fair Energy Governance

Solutions For Our Climate (hereinafter, “SFOC”), a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to strengthening the regulation of coal-fired power plant (hereinafter, “coal power plant”) industry, a main source of greenhouse gas emissions, and leveling the playing field between coal power plants and renewable energies. SFOC believes that an effective climate action in Korea lies in the structural improvement of power market as the growth of renewable energies is slow while the proportion of power generation by coal power plants continues to increase. Therefore, SFOC exposes not only environmental problems but also socioeconomic problems in existing policies and institutions through data-based analyses, and comes up with solutions accordingly. SFOC also works with the press to raise public awareness, and cooperates widely with the National Assembly, local governments, domestic and foreign civil societies, and specialized institutions.

Data-based analysis

 

▲ Report published by SFOC regard the status and problems of financing coal power

 

SFOC published reports[1] with comprehensive analyses on Korean public financial institutions that finance coal power projects which are the main culprit of climate change and air pollution (January and December 2018), pointing out the problems of their coal power financing and coming up with institutional solutions to make improvements. 「Financing Dirty Energy — How Korean Public Financial Institutions Support Coal Power」 (Jan. 2018) is the nation’s first report with research and analysis on Korean Public Financial Institutions’ coal-fired power plant financing. The report finds that 19GW-large coal power plants have been planned for construction in Korea since 2008, about 80% of existing coal power capacity, and that for this, public financial institutions funded as much as 9 trillion 427 billion won. The report pointed out the problems involved. In the second report published in December 2018, SFOC additionally found that nine public financial institutions financed not only new constructions but also operations of the coal power plants after construction both at home and abroad, amounting to as large as 23 trillion 780.9 billion won, and called on the public financial institutions to stop funding the coal power projects on the basis of the analysis of financial, environmental, and legal problems of such financing.

Meanwhile, SFOC is monitoring and making analysis of domestic and foreign power markets in collaboration with overseas expert institutions such as Carbon Tracker Initiative. According to the Carbon Tracker Initiative report, 「Powering down coal: Navigating the economic and financial risks in the last years of coal power」 (Nov. 2018)[2], in which SFOC participated, 40% of coal power plants around the world are currently in operation at a loss, and in case of Korea, by the year 2030, new installations of renewable energy will cost less than the operation of 99% of coal power capacity of today, proving that coal power does not make economic sense either and thus has to phase out. .

 

Policy and institutional solutions

In October 2018, South Chungcheong Province joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance for the first time in Asia, drawing attention at home and abroad. Together with Korean and overseas NGOs, SFOC advised and supported South Chungcheong Province, where half of Korea’s coal power stations are concentrated, so the Province can develop coal-free, environment-friendly energy vision and join the Alliance. While helping the Province to realize its vision, SFOC also plans to work with the central and other local governments to propagate the move toward coal phase-out across the nation.

 

 South Chungcheong Province Joins the PPCA

The Powering Past Coal Alliance is an international alliance aimed to set coal phase-out targets and induce coal power shutdowns; to suspend financial support for coal power infrastructure build-up; and to suggest the policies of conversion to low-carbon, environment-friendly energy and help implement such policies. The PPCA has a membership of 30 nations, 22 local governments, and 28 corporations/organizations as of December 2018. Out of 61 units of coal power in Korea, 30 are stationed in South Chungcheong Province, including second largest and third largest coal power plant complexes in the world. According to 2015 records, the Province emits 25% of greenhouse gases and 13% of air pollutants in the nation, making the Province the most important target for coal phase-out. Before it joined the PPCA, the Province held a ceremony to declare its “vision for energy conversion” in early 2018, making a commitment to completely phase out coal power from current 87.8% to 0% by the year 2050. It also presented its vision to raise the proportion of power generation with renewable energy from current 7.7% to 47.5%.

 

In addition, SFOC has strived, with results, to publicly highlight the problems of Korean public financial institutions’ financing of domestic and oversea coal power projects and unfair practices of power market such as capacity payment during the parliamentary inspection on coal-power related ministries and public corporations including the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy; Ministry of Economy and Finance; and Ministry of Environment. SFOC works closely with its partners within the National Assembly to advise them on coal power finance policies and institutional improvements since requesting the submission of documents and making inquiries from public institutions are the authority entrusted to lawmakers.

These activities of SFOC are also extended overseas. SFOC cooperates with the Pembina Institute[3], a Canadian think tank on energy, the E3G[4], a U.K. think tank on climate change, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, a U.S. environment protection group. Besides, SFOC also works with distinguished foreign institutions such as Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society, Friends of Earth, and Oil Change International. SFOC has also taken part in various overseas publications of reports on coal phase-out, including Rocky Mountain Institute’s “Managing the Coal Capital Transition” (2018.8)[5].

 

Raising public awareness through cooperation with media

SFOC provides data and advice to many newspapers and broadcasting companies for consistent media exposure in an effort to build public consensus on the problems of coal power and coal power financing and on the urgency to solve them, as well as on the need to improve policies about energy and environment. For example, throughout the year in 2018, SFOC provided advice and support to the media for the coverage of such issues as Korea’s coal power plant construction plan, problems of greenhouse gas emissions reduction target setting and roadmap (roadmap 2030) for action (reported by JTBC in June 2018)[6][7], and global civil society’s voice against Korean public financial institutions’ coal power financing (reported by KBS in October and December 2018)[8][9]. While establishing and maintaining a close network with influential domestic media, SFOC is also strengthening its networking with foreign press.

 

 

[1] 「Financing Dirty Energy — How Korean Public Financial Institutions Support Coal Power」 (Jan. 2018), 「Bad Investment that Puts Investors and the Earth in Danger」 (Dec. 2018)

[2] Carbon Tracker Initiative (Nov. 2018)

[3] https://www.pembina.org/blog/south-korean-provinces-coal-phase-out-sign-times

[4] https://www.e3g.org/docs/E3G_SFOC_Cracks_in_the_ice_for_South_Korean_Coal.pdf

[5] https://www.rmi.org/insight/managing-coal-capital-transition/

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loXkdTiSdx0 (June 7, 2018)

[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9yPYLu1Zhg (June 28, 2018)

[8] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jCphWa5bTw (Oct. 23, 2018)

[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loXkdTiSdx0 (Dec. 14, 2018)

Call for cooperation

  • Articulating needs/interest to learn from other stakeholders in similar situations

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