September 10, 2021 Read More →

Top U.S. Treasury official calls for accelerated coal-fired plant closures


The U.S. Treasury’s top climate official on Thursday said programs to accelerate the closure of coal-fired power plants are an “absolutely critical part” of fighting climate change but carry some risks.

In an interview with Reuters, Treasury Climate Counselor John Morton endorsed a scheme being developed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and private investors to buy up and retire coal plants early as a more difficult but necessary companion to “sexier” efforts to boost direct investments in clean energy projects and stop the financing of high carbon-emitting energy sources.

The emission reduction goals set by the Paris Agreement are impossible to achieve without early retirements of coal plants, he said.

“Financing the closure of something is not in the DNA of most development finance institutions or governments, but it is an absolutely critical piece of solving the climate problem,” Morton said.

Reuters first reported the ADB’s effort with British insurer Prudential (PRU.L), Citi (C.N) and BlackRock Real Assets (BLK.N) to conduct a feasibility study to begin acquiring coal plants to wind them down 10-15 years before the end of their useful lives. The group has set a goal of financing their first plant purchase in 2022. 

[David Lawder and Andrea Shalal]

More: U.S. Treasury climate boss: retiring coal plants ‘absolutely critical’

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