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Picture: 123RF/ARTUR NYK
Picture: 123RF/ARTUR NYK

I confess to being extremely confused by your newspaper’s position on climate change.

In an editorial about a month ago you highlighted the findings of the latest reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“Only urgent, immediate action will prevent climate disaster”, April 7). You referred to the fact that “the gap between what should be and what is has continued to widen, even as time for action is running out”; you highlighted that “limiting global warming to 1.5C would require global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 and this would leave a substantial amount of fossil fuels unburnt”; and you concluded that “not only has the world run out of time to respond to climate change, it has also run out of excuses”.

Then, less than a month later,  you appear to throw climate science out of the window, based on the share price rally of  a “pure-play” coal exporter (“Thungela rally highlights need to rethink coal’s future”, May 4). You defend asset managers who claim to be taking climate action but have increased their holdings in Thungela (this, by the way, is the definition of greenwashing), on the basis that “it is not unreasonable to surmise that their stance is an implicit acknowledgment of evidence that coal will have a longer than anticipated future”. You then appear to endorse the World Coal Association’s push for reliance on “clean coal technologies”.

The energy transition is the most complex global endeavour in human history, and the ride will be bumpy indeed. The fact that geopolitical events have sparked a boom in the price of fossil fuels doesn’t change climate science — in fact, it makes the case for climate action and reduced reliance on fossil fuels even more obvious. To argue for extending the use of coal on the basis that it is now profitable is to perpetuate the short-term self-interest that has stymied climate action for decades.

Despite decades of experimentation, “clean coal” and carbon capture and storage have failed to achieve commercial viability. These technologies have limited success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and vastly higher capital costs than less harmful alternatives. In the power sector there are far cheaper, zero-carbon alternatives that can be quickly deployed at scale.

By parroting the propaganda of the World Coal Association you endorse vested interests in the fossil fuel industry and mislead your readers, who deserve better: they should be able to trust that SA’s leading business newspaper is providing them with climate reporting that is scientifically accurate, consistent and propaganda-free.

Tracey Davies
Executive director, Just Share 

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