(Bloomberg) – European governments are drawing up plans to phase out coal, are shutting down coal-fired power plants in the United States as clean energy prices drop, and new Asian projects are being scrapped as banks avoid financing fuel. But in Russia, the government of President Vladimir Putin is spending more than $ 10 billion to modernize rail networks, which will help boost exports of the product. Authorities will use prisoners to help speed up the work, reviving a Soviet-era tradition.The project to modernize and expand the railways to Russia’s Far East ports is part of a broader push to make the country one among the last to export fossil fuels as other countries switch to greener alternatives. The government is betting that coal consumption will continue to rise in big Asian markets like China, even as it fades elsewhere.
“It is realistic to expect Asian demand for imported coal to increase if conditions are right,” said Evgeniy Bragin, deputy CEO of UMMC Holding, which owns a coal company in the Kuzbass region of western Siberia. “We need to keep developing and expanding the railway infrastructure so that we have the opportunity to export coal.” The latest 720 billion rubles (US $ 9.8 billion) project to expand Russia’s two longest railways will aim to increase cargo capacity of coal and other goods to 182 million tonnes a year by 2024. Capacity has already more than doubled to 144 million tonnes under a 520 billion ruble modernization plan that began in 2013. Putin urged faster progress on The next leg at a meeting with coal miners in March, Putin is betting that his country’s land border with China and good relations with President Xi Jinping make him a natural candidate to dominate exports to the nation that consumes the most. of half the world’s coal. His case is helped by the fact that Australia, currently the top coal exporter, faces trade restrictions from China amid a diplomatic dispute over the origins of the coronavirus.
But the plan is fraught with risks, both for the Russian economy and for the planet. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends the immediate phase-out of coal to prevent catastrophic global warming and the effects of climate change are projected to cost Russia billions in the coming decades.
Original Note: Putin Is Betting World’s Dirtiest Fossil Fuel Still Has a Future
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