Countering climate doomism – an interview with Ketan Joshi

Countering climate doomism - an interview with Ketan Joshi

Ketan Joshi is a writer, analyst, communications consultant and author with a focus on climate change and energy. He worked in the renewable energy industry for about eight years, doing operational monitoring, data analysis, community engagement and corporate communications. He’s also worked in data science and innovation communications at Australia’s national science agency.

In this interview Green Agenda co-editor Simon Copland talks with Ketan about the future of the fossil fuel industry and why we should still have hope in the face of the threat of climate change.

Simon Copland:

Green Agenda’s next edition is on the theme Climate Hope. It’s based on the latest IPCC report, which gave us a lot of scary predictions. Yet I think a lot of the authors of the report also were really keen to say there’s still hope. Let’s start by just asking, do you think there’s still hope around climate change?

Ketan Joshi:

Yes, I do. The word itself has this funny context behind it, which is that it means actually quite substantially different things to different people in different contexts. I certainly interpret it as: is there still opportunity? Are there gaps in things that we can do that we haven’t done yet? Not only would I answer that with a very hard yes, I would also argue very strongly that a lot of those things that are open to us to take action and to change are more available to us than we’ve been led to believe. We’ve been trained into thinking that if you were to take action to reduce emissions in this particular way, the consequences would be dire. You would suffer some sort of negative experience if you were to reduce emissions too fast.

That’s a way of basically destroying that hope. By saying, “Look, sure you want to reduce emissions, but if you were to shut down a coal plant, then you would have blackouts. Or if you were to close down this oil field, all of a sudden you wouldn’t be able to meet demand, and there would be price shocks and people would starve, and all that sort of stuff.” So, that’s a way of erasing hope. We see that rhetoric around closing off potential sources of action all the time, every single day. It works amazingly well, as you would expect. Those messages dominate rather than the messages of the things that we could potentially be doing that would actually be fine if we just tried them.

The electricity grid is actually a really nice example. My background is in energy and electricity, so of course I call on this all the time. I was looking through some old articles a few months ago about the growth of renewables and electricity grids and it’s actually really astonishing to see how much panic and worry there was about even just a small amount of wind and solar. At 5 to to 10% of a grid, people were really worried about destabilisation and blackouts and rising prices. Of course, fast forward to now, and that’s definitely not true, but those same arguments take a different form. 

Actually a really good example occurred in this current and last week. I’m on a wholesale spot price agreement for the electricity for our apartment [in Oslo, Norway]. Electricity prices in Norway and actually across Europe and the UK are really expensive at the moment because there’s a supply crunch for gas. Russia has been capping its supply. There have been some hits also in the US – some constraints due to hurricanes and other climate impacts, which have constrained supply. The consequences are that the price of it goes up. Countries in Europe, in particular, rely very heavily on gas heating for power stations and for industry. And of course, this has coincided with an abnormally low wind year. Wind power output has been lower than 2019 and 2020. It’s within the range of possibility. It’s not like a one in 1,000 year event, it’s more like a one in 30 year event in terms of wind speeds being slow, and for such a prolonged time. There’s been a lot of variation within it, but basically because it’s been happening over months, then more and more gas is being burned.

All of this has been sort of presented as, “See? You relied too much on renewables and now you’ve got really expensive electricity and gas bills.” But of course, the problem is a design problem. The design is that we’re relying too much on a fossil fuel. The consequences of this are obviously climate change, but also that we have this supply chain where countries and companies can actually take actions that result in high prices so they rake in a lot of cash. Norway’s government for example is getting a lot of money from this whole incident. 

Of course we have the option of getting rid of gas. We actually know how to get rid of gas. We know how to reduce reliance on it. We can electrify homes, industry, and most importantly, we can get rid of gas fired power stations and replace the functionality with something else. There are too many gas fired power stations. People make the argument that you need them to back up renewables. But if you were to accept that as true, you only need a tiny bit. You just need a bit of capacity. It turns on once every whenever. As long as you build enough wind and solar, and you have a bunch of other balancing options that are zero carbon –  batteries, transmission lines, demand response, energy efficiency, new transmission lines and things like that – then you’re mostly fine. You don’t need to rely on gas.

So, it’s an example of where hope, which is, in this specific instance, an action that you would take to shut down the infrastructure that causes greenhouse gas emissions, specifically gas, is something that they’re trying to erode. They don’t like the idea that we can imagine a world without gas. So, when gas itself causes a problem, they pick it up and they put it on the shoulder on renewables. By saying, “You see? Wind is low,” because it varies, “We should get rid of it.” Of course, if you got rid of it, you would be relying almost entirely on gas, and the energy crunch would have been catastrophic rather than just quite bad.

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Simon Copland:

It reminds me a couple of months ago, there was an explosion at a coal plant in Queensland, and there was very short term blackouts and brownouts in Queensland. Some conservative politicians came out and said, “See? This is why you can’t rely on renewables.” The explosion was at the coal plant, not at a renewable plant. 

Ketan Joshi:

I think in that instance hydrogen is a coolant or something like that, and it was some component of the rotor in the turbine and, and they were like, “See? Hydrogen. I told you,” because in their mind, they’re like, “Oh, that sounds like it’s something that’s a climate action thing, so we better blame hydrogen.” 

So, yeah, basically, I just wanted to contextualise the way I think about hope, because it’s actually quite a meaty, substantial, real world thing. 

Generally you’ll do a panel talk or something like that, and the first 60% of the panel talk is everyone talking about the bad stuff, and then the last bit is everyone talking about the stuff that you do. Like, “What can I do? What can you do? What needs to be done?” Then it’ll always end with, what gives you hope? What do you have hope for, are we hopeful about? I’m like, “Well, we should have actually started with this and then maybe ended with the bad stuff,” because I feel like maybe that’s a better way of getting people to think about it. I think that that phenomenon the way it’s discussed in health and things like that is actually a bit reflective of how more broadly we actually don’t get access to action. We don’t really talk about action. 

Just this morning, there was an article that came out about one of Australia’s most emissions intensive utilities, Energy Australia. They operate a bunch of coal fired power stations. A few months ago, the International Energy Agency, they put out this report about how you would reach a limit on emissions that roughly matches a decent-ish chance of keeping the world below 1.5 degrees of warming, which is terrible, but it’s the least bad that we should be aiming for. That report basically said, “This is the physical infrastructure changes you need to make to the world’s energy system. These are the machines you need to shut down. These are the machines you need to build. These are the other things that you need to make and to change to support that. These are the lifestyle changes that everyone will have to experience to put us on a pretty decent-ish pathway.”

One of those things, the most significant to me, was shutting down coal by 2030 in rich countries. Poorer countries can keep coal plants open a bit longer. Obviously, their historical emissions have been far lower than the rich countries like Norway or Australia, which means they get a bit more of a runway to exit the fossil fuel age, as they should, because they historically have contributed significantly less. The exception to that is China, because every new year puts them more in the wealthy country spot than the less wealthy country spot. It’s complete outlier, really. Maybe we can talk about China a bit later, because it’s an interesting example of a lot of the things. 

Australia’s utilities could basically have looked at that and said, “Oh, okay. We have to shut down coal by 2030.” We know the power grids don’t need coal. We know that it’s basically defunct, fully replaceable. It serves absolutely no function in the electricity grids anymore beyond just it’s already there, and they paid for those things. Instead, they’re like, “We paid for these coal fired power stations and we want to keep them running until they get too old to run.” That is too late. They need to be shut down well before that.

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But, yeah, basically they know that there’s hope. They know that there’s action you can take to not have coal on a grid, and the impact on Australia’s total emissions if coal fired power plants were to be shut down in that timeline would be spectacular. It would really actually put Australia properly on a pathway to net zero. You would, of course, have to do many, many other things on top of that for 2040 to get a good chance of actually staying below 1.5 degrees, but it would be amazing, and and it would actually be relatively straight forward. Australia actually has really good knowledge of integrated high volumes of renewable energy. 

It might happen by itself. There’s a chance that the coal power industry in Australia will just collapse, but the outcomes of that are not preferable because that is an uncontrolled closure pattern for coal. Of course, what’s going to happen is the companies running those power stations will put the burden of those impacts onto their workers and the communities of those coal power plants. They are not particularly vested in doing the right thing.

So what happened today is that Energy Australia announced they are promising to close their coal plants in 2040 instead of 2042. And everyone’s like, “Oh, wow, it’s early closure. It’s happening. They’re closing their coal plants early.” It’s like, no, they’re closing their coal plants very slightly less late, and they’re presenting that as if they’re on track to doing the right thing on climate action, but it’s certainly not.

So, they look at countries like the UK, who, full of problems, I have plenty to criticise about the UK, but they shut down coal. But functionally, coal is only there to fire up for a few days every year, a few remaining coal plants, a bit of electricity, but functionally, coal is gone from the UK’s electricity grid. If you were to shut down those last few coal plants, stuff would be fine. No one would notice the difference. So, they look at that and they’re like, “Oh, no, you actually can operate a power grid.” Australia’s power grid is isolated. The UK has some connections into Europe, so that helps a bit. But a coal free grid in Australia is straightforward. It’s been modeled by the electricity market operator, and they’re like, “Yeah, it’s fine.” Coal as a function, as a technology that serves a function, you just don’t need it anymore. 

Simon Copland:

Right at the start of that you said you thought of hope as opportunity, and opportunity, I think specifically, of things we haven’t done in the past that we could still be doing. Your discussion of this so far has focused on the technological potential of things that we’ve haven’t done, but that are entirely achievable and they’ve been proved to be achievable. Is that what you mean when you’re thinking about opportunity, or is there also an element of opportunity of movements and activism? You also mentioned your own theory of power and change, and I’d like you to potentially delve into that a little bit more.

Ketan Joshi:

That’s actually what I was thinking of. The reason I mentioned the technological characteristics is that the technological concerns are the things that are used to erase hope. Wind and solar are spoken of as insufficient as technologies to replace the functionality of a coal plant. 

But when it comes to the way that things actually change from one technology to another, it’s not as much about the characteristics, or even the economics of technologies. Even energy wonks like me like to admit that a lot of it comes from collective action through protests and pressure and divestment. A really nice example of this is in the US there have been campaigns targeted at divesting from utilities that don’t have plans aligned with exiting from coal on the right timeline. So, pressuring banks to refuse to lend to them. It involves people calling up their back and saying, “Well, I’m moving my cash away from you because you’re not doing the right thing.”

Same thing with insurance companies. It’s actually been a really powerful thing. Yesterday, AGL Energy had their Annual General Meeting. AGL are doing the same thing as Energy Australia. Basically, they’re just running coal as long as they can and breaching climate targets by making that decision. But of course the thing that is going to bring them around, if they do get brought around, will not be because they’ll suddenly decide they really like wind and solar, because they’re not really making rational decisions about the economics of the stuff that they’re running. I see this view a lot, is, “Well, if you just made wind and solar cheap enough, then these rational profit driven corporations would just do the right thing, because it’s so cheap.” That’s actually not what we see happening, even when it’s cheaper to do the right thing, they still don’t, because they’re human beings with politics and ideologies and feelings.  

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So you do actually still need a lot of pressure and activism. One of my clients that I write for is the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), and yesterday they had this amazing shareholder resolution for the AGL AGM. This stuff is amazing but also really mundane. It’s just asking them to align with the Paris Climate Agreement, like they constantly say they’re doing. It wasn’t binding, unfortunately, because they lost another vote that would’ve made it binding on AGL. But as a show of force, people are aware now that AGL is making bad decisions because of the efforts of activist shareholders. 

The youth activism movement has also done a really good job of being really clear that they have really rational and clearheaded concerns about what these companies are doing. I see this all the time, like, “climate alarmists are scaring young people,” but if you actually listen to them and they’re so clear, but angry, about what it is they’re pissed off about, which is inaction. They don’t think they’re doomed, they don’t think that there’s nothing that can be done. They’re looking at all the stuff that could potentially be done, and they’re like, “Well, why aren’t you doing it? I’m so angry about this.” So, it’s totally justified. 

There was a young guy who ran for the board of directors at the AGL shareholder meeting yesterday. His presentation was also just very clearheaded. He’s just like, “you are doing the wrong thing.” This is a really terrible thing that you’re doing. Of course, many props to ACCR for giving a young Australian a voice on that action that they took against AGL. 

When I talk about potential action, I’m very much referring to basically the spectrum of effort that is being applied in terms of climate action as a whole. Generally, I tend to be thinking about activism when I think of that, it’s about forcing that effort. I definitely think of power dynamics and activism and that sort of effort when I talk about opportunities that are being denied. If you don’t have the power to do this, you’re not going to make a difference. 

Just yesterday, I was reading a comment from Tanya Constable. She’s the head of the Minerals Council of Australia. It says in this article, I’m paraphrasing her, but she basically says, “Look, we are building these new coal and gas mines, and we are going to be building new gas fired power stations.” That is why the need to research carbon capture and fossil hydrogen is so urgent, because we’re doing it.

Simon Copland:

It’s inevitable.

Ketan Joshi:

So, you better fund ways to figure out how to make it lower emissions, because otherwise it’s going to be really high. The whole idea of just not doing that is excluded from possibility. That’s very widespread, the way she was talking. It’s not just the head of the Minerals Council that talks that way. You see, even some climate energy experts say stuff like, “Well, coal, oil, and gas are going to be inevitable the next few years.” But they’re obscuring the rate at which it declines, which is the argument that we’re really having in the real world. So, part of the opportunity there is about the power dynamics in terms of putting the pressure on changing that.

But I think a part of it is also about running against that narrative to create a world that suggests that you don’t have to do that. That it is actually possible to have a world without coal, it is possible to have a world without gas. That narrative is not coming from industry, or at least from the fossil fuel industry. It’s never going to come from them. It’s not really coming from Government, but it’s activists who present that world and who present that more hopeful future about what that world could look like.

On that note things are changing a bit. I mentioned the International Energy Agency (IEA) before releasing the Net Zero by 2050 report. They’ve historically been a very, very conservative agency. They were initially set up to run some protection for the oil and gas industry in the seventies, but now they’ve actually played a role in imagining the future. The UK government, as part of COP26, commissioned the IEA to look at Net Zero by 2050. That has had a really significant impact, because for once, the IEA had some hard constraints on what they could imagine. They couldn’t basically say, well, let’s just fill in some gaps in the future with some carbon removal technologies that we don’t really know for sure will happen, or some tree planting that may not really keep carbon in the ground. They couldn’t really do that. The amount of offsetting and carbon removal and basically loopholes that other reports have used to justify fossil fuel use, they couldn’t really use them. Suddenly, their model just spits out this conclusion of, “Well, you don’t need any more mines. We’ve got enough now to last us the rapid decline.”

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If you actually think that Net Zero by 2050 and a 1.5 degree target is a real thing that you want to align to, then you cannot build any new construction projects with fossil fuels. They just couldn’t avoid that conclusion getting spat out of their model, and of course, it was a huge moment. All these headlines are like, “The IEA says that you can’t build any new coal, oil, or gas.” Then, like I mentioned before, they have to think about coal fired power stations shutting down before 2030, and other things about cars and industry and homes. Their role in imagining the possibilities for the future was previously heavily leaning towards helping fossil fuel companies ensure that we just can’t imagine doing anything differently, or we can’t imagine a faster decline than what was previously thought was possible.

So it just felt great to see that change, because initially, it was activists, analysts and writers fighting against this massive tide of cultural momentum where the default is to not imagine a different possibility, or to even slightly interrogate whether or not we’re being too non ambitious about the changes that could be possibly made. But then, all of a sudden, a big institution is joining us, saying, “Well, actually, just put the numbers in and see what happens.” Start with the climate target and then solve for the changes in society instead of the other way around, which is start with the assumption that you can only change very, very slowly, and then just fill it in with some carbon removal crap in the future, and then go, “Oh, we met our climate target.”

I’m actually currently working with an organisation called the European Climate Foundation right now, we’re doing all this net zero stuff. Basically we’re interrogating the way net zero targets are being taken up by companies. These companies are doing exactly this thing that I’ve just described, which is using offsets and carbon removals as a tool, a rhetorical tool for justifying not doing much at the moment. They’re basically looking at themselves, and they wake up in the morning, they walk into the office of their Shell, Exxon or an airline and they sit down at their desk and they’re like, “What am I going to do? Am I going to step in front of a shareholder meeting and say, “We’re actually going to stop advertising frequent flyer programs because that is making too many people fly. That’s causing emissions that damage the earth. So, we’re going to end the frequent flyer programs.” Like, “Can I do that?” Of course, they sit there and they go, “No, I can’t do that.” That’s wild. “That’s just not something that I could even possibly imagine doing as a decision maker at Qantas.” But then if someone else comes along and says, “These shareholders are telling us off about our climate credentials,” they’re like, “Okay, so we’ll just imagine a future in which we continue the way we are, and then we assume that in 2040, somebody invents an electric plane or a hydrogen plane, or someone invents a technology that sucks carbon from the air and removes it. The numbers work out. Our emissions go down to zero by 2050, and I can step into my office tomorrow and feel completely fine about the decisions that I make to not cancel our frequent flyer program or stop expanding th coal and gas markets.” 

They’re basically looking for justifications to avoid the guts of the problem, which is that they’re in a businesses which only really prospers when they make climate change worse and causes more damage to humans and to the environment and to living things on Earth. They don’t want to deal with that. It’s just another really good example of where imagination about the rate of change and the way that people understand in their head how fast change can happen has to be owned by these companies and these people. They’re like, “We have to own this. We can’t let other people think or dwell too long on the opportunities that are available.” 

I just want to quickly mention transport too, because I haven’t really mentioned it very much. But it’s the same phenomenon, where converting our current way of moving bodies around to a zero emissions version could actually be done pretty fast if we were a bit more open to relying less on cars, if cities could be changed to rely less on cars , if there were options that were zero emissions that you don’t need a car. For anybody who does need a car, if electric options were available more quickly, then you could actually get things done a lot quicker.

But even in the IEA’s Net Zero by 2050 report, they’re like, “No, we can’t really imagine people ditching cars.” So, they sort of have to model in a huge, huge, huge boom in electric vehicle manufacturing, and they offer it as just a bit of a carrot to mining companies. They’re like, “Look, there’s a lot of lithium and copper and all these cool critical minerals that you could be mining up in this huge EV boom that we’re imagining,” because they don’t model much mode switching. It’s in there, it’s a bit, but not a huge amount. They’re just like, “No one who currently has a car is going to give it up, so we’re just going to limit our imagination in this way.” They’re hoping it’s like a bit of a consolation prize. Like, “Look, they’re still mining, see?” It’s not all Greenies. We still get to dig stuff out of the ground and hoard resources and stuff.

It’s just a nice example, transport, I think, where you can actually see a similar phenomenon, except it operates politically in different ways because of course, electric vehicles have detractors and supporters on many different components of the political spectrum. So, it’s a very different phenomenon to coal power versus wind and solar, but it’s the same thing. Who’s doing the imagining? Who is responsible for the proportion of new bike lanes or new pedestrian walkways or new public transport options versus the manufacturing rate of electric vehicles and how fast are they deployed into society?

I had the weirdest experience. I listened to Tony Abbott on this podcast with a guy in the UK. This guy is a conservative advocate of climate action. He had Tony Abbott on his podcast, and Tony Abbott is now the advisor to the UK on trade. So, the podcast is mostly about trade, and they actually start talking about critical minerals for electrification of transport in this podcast. I’m listening to it, and obviously Tony Abbott has talked to somebody who actually knows their stuff on transport, because he was talking about how in India, a really great option for electrified transport is actually to not try and do a one for one swap for cars, or to even encourage people to get cars, but to actually introduce really widespread programs that subsidise electric bicycles and electric scooters, many of which don’t need on-street charging or driveways, because you physically remove the battery from your bike or your scooter and carry it upstairs and you plug it into your wall socket at home and charge it overnight. 

So, Tony Abbott’s there saying some pretty reasonable stuff. Things like, yeah, you could reduce reliance on these critical minerals by having much smaller and more flexible modes of transport with a lower material footprint, and really well suited for a country like India. I was like, “What the hell is going on here? He’s making a great point.”

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Simon Copland

I’m in Canberra, and just in the last few years we’ve seen some significant changes in transport here.  They built a light rail system. It only goes from one spot to another, it’s only a small part of Canberra, but it was a huge political debate in the lead up to it, and defined the election in 2016, which is five years ago now. There was a lot of people saying, “nobody in Canberra will use this.” But since then it’s been built and developed, and the moment it was there, it was packed. For me as well, because we live close to it, my amount of public transport use has just skyrocketed, not because I was opposed to public transport, but because just now it’s easy and convenient. The political leadership, the imagination had to come and you had to battle through this doomsday, “It will never work,” kind of thing.

Then they’ve just introduced e-scooter schemes here. We have a couple of companies in the city. You can go and use e-scooters and you just have to use an app. I think that also has fundamentally changed a bunch of people’s transport behaviours, where short trips now are done by scooter, rather than by Uber, or even getting in your car and driving from one end of town to the other. It’s actually faster and quicker and easier to just hop on a scooter. Just having the infrastructure and having people who are willing to advocate for it and to imagine it is enough, and then people come to it when it arrives. I think that’s super interesting. I know we’ve gone over the half an hour I promised you, but I do have one more question.

Ketan Joshi


Simon Copland

Part of the reason that I really wanted to talk to you was that one of the things that you’ve spoken about is climate doomism and the genuine fears people have. You’ve tried to change that to say, actually, fossil fuel companies at the moment are particularly vulnerable, and there are a whole bunch of vulnerabilities there that we could be exploiting, we should be exploiting. I wanted you to talk a bit about that. What are these vulnerabilities and how can we exploit them?

Ketan Joshi:

I split them into two categories. One is legal. A lot of companies are facing legal consequences for their historic and current actions. There are a bunch of companies that have been responsible for the extraction and burning of fossil fuels for a long time, but have not taken actions to reduce it. In fact, many of them have taken actions to worsen this problem. There haven’t been many huge wins in court against fossil fuel companies over the past few decades. It’s been a real struggle. Many good people have tried very, very hard to get wins in court against fossil fuel companies, and it’s just been really difficult.

There are court cases against future emissions as well. So, companies that are basically planning to take actions that will in the future result in greater greenhouse gas emissions. An example, of course, is Shell, which says it has a climate plan. It’s a major supplier of fossil fuels around the world, but it said, “don’t worry, we’ve got a climate plan.” But, of course, it was garbage. They basically just put this bunch of mathematical trickery on top of it to obscure the fact that they plan to change nothing in the next decade.

This year something started to change. The findings of court cases against fossil fuel companies have started to change. An activist group took Shell to court, and the court was like, “No, very clearly, you’re not planning to change anything at all. You’re not going to stop supplying fossil fuels in line with the climate targets. So, we’re going to force you to do it.” Whether or not it results in Shell actually changing is still an open question. Of course, they’re appealing the decision. They welcomed the decision and said, yes, this shows how much we’re committed to climate change, but now they are also appealing the decision, and the reasons are just a total mess. They’re trying to justify them, and it’s just this bunch of words that don’t make sense. 

Another example is, of course, in Australia. A bunch of young Australians took the Environment Minister to court over a duty of care to protect young people from the impacts of climate change that occur when coal mines unlock carbon from the ground. The court ruled that, yes, the Environment Minister does have a duty of care. She is, of course, appealing that too, and still approving coal mines, including the coal mine that was the subject of that ruling. I’m sure that she’ll try and chuck some offsets in there or something like that to try and say that makes a difference. Of course it doesn’t. 

Another example is in Germany. Some activists took the German government to court and said, your climate targets are insufficient. Of course, they are. The courtt was like, okay, well, you need to actually act aligned with the 1.5 degree target. So, actually, probably what will hopefully happen in the next few months is Germany will announce it’s moving forward its coal closure from 2038 to 2030, which as I mentioned before is the deadline for rich countries to close coal. 

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The other way in which these companies are really vulnerable is financial. I’m speaking specifically about coal power operators here. I mentioned that all these companies have these plans, these visions to keep the coal running as long as they possibly can, and they will try. They’re very powerful. They have huge amounts of influence. In Australia, there’s a policy that they’re trying to implement, which is a payment for people who have capacity for power, but don’t actually run it, on the grounds that that’s available to help generate electricity when it’s needed for power and supply crunches. Tacitly, that just ends up being a subsidy for coal. Because if you don’t develop that scheme in a way that excludes high emissions power, then of course it just ends up favouring fossil fuels – coal and gas. The idea behind it, of course, is they need to keep coal running as long as they possibly can. But the reason behind it is actually reason for hope, because coal is under threat from wholesale electricity prices going down, because wind and solar are just so damn cheap that they push electricity prices down. 

So, they are worried. They are extremely worried about what they need to do to keep coal running. That’s a great sign, because their panic, their anxiety suggests something big around the corner for coal power. It shouldn’t be an unplanned, chaotic closure, as I mentioned. But the reason that I mentioned that in the context of vulnerability for the fossil fuel industry as a whole is because coal, first of all, is the biggest chunk of emissions. Coal power is the biggest single chunk of greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide around the world. You get coal power sorted, and you are really on the right track, properly on the right track. 

So, coal power operators are freaking out. Around the world, they’re really starting to get nervous. So, that nervousness can be exploited and worsened. I mean that in a very positive way, because when the decision-makers and powerful people at those companies become visibly nervous, then investors get nervous too, and lenders get nervous, and insurers get nervous. There’s this huge outbreak of worry and anxiety about the future of coal power. It’s fantastic, because, of course, those people should be scared, and they should be nervous, because they’re doing a very bad thing by keeping coal power running so long, and they need to expect that it should stop way sooner than they hope it will. 

Simon Copland:

I imagine you think activism is a key pressure point to undermine their finance further. If you impact their finance, that continues to impact their ability to survive.

Ketan Joshi: 

Yeah. Organisations underestimated the growth of wind and solar and how cheap they got. I think we’re underestimating the rate at which coal could decline. It’s not like we’re miss-forecasting it. I mean, we’re just not aware of the potential of how quickly things could turn around for coal power. I’m not just talking about Europe and rich countries, USA, Australia, etcetera. I’m talking about less wealthy countries as well, their coal pipelines are shrinking. They’re really shrinking fast, right? As in planned new coal plants.

Once that shrinks to nothing, then that pressure becomes real. It’s hidden at moment, because it’s in coal plants that were going to exist just never exist, and you don’t know about it, because you never really saw anything change. But as soon as it has nothing left to act on in the plant pipeline for coal, that phenomenon is going to start just moving down into operational coal as well. So, that’s a great thing, and we need to do everything we can to accelerate it even more.

Simon Copland:

That’s a good point to end, I think. Thank you. Thanks for taking the time.

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