Let Them Eat Coal

Why the G7 must stop burning coal to tackle climate change and fight hunger

Publication date: 5 June 2015
Author: Kiri Hanks, Energy policy adviser, Oxfam GB Julie-Anne Richards, Head of policy, food and climate justice, Oxfam GB

Climate change is already the biggest threat to winning the fight against hunger. Coal is the biggest single cause of climate change, yet the G7 countries are still burning huge amounts, despite efficient, affordable, renewable alternatives being available. G7 coal power stations emit twice as much fossil fuel CO2 as the whole of Africa, and their contribution to global warming will cost Africa alone more than $43bn per year by the 2080s and $84bn by 2100, and lead to several million tonnes of staple crops lost worldwide.

This year will see crucial new UN climate talks in Paris. To set the tone for a successful climate agreement at the UN talks in December, the G7 must lead the world in setting out clear plans for a just transition away from coal. This Oxfam briefing paper shows how with the right mix of regulatory and policy measures, some countries can move to coal-free electricity grids within the next decade. Oxfam commissioned the think-tank E3G to review the current coal situation in all G7 countries. This paper summarizes their findings; full detailed reports for each G7 country can be found on the E3G website.