Oil, Gas and Mining

Key Publications

Digging Deeper

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This report looks at coal in four countries—India, Colombia, South Africa, and Egypt—through a human rights lens. It focuses on the Global South, where coal use and production are increasing despite the opposite trend in much of the Global North.

Boom and bust

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This report provides the results of a worldwide survey completed in January 2015 by the Global Coal Plant Tracker. From 2005 to 2012, worldwide coal-fired generating capacity boomed, growing at three times the previous pace. The increase in the global coal fleet was twice the size of the entire existing U.S. coal fleet. That boom is now busting. In India, projects shelved or cancelled since 2012 outnumber project completions by six to one, and new construction initiations are at a near-standstill. In both Europe and the U.S., the coal fleet is shrinking, with retirements outnumbering new plants. China faces a looming glut in coal-fired generating capacity, with plant utilisation rates at a 35-year low.

The Health Impact of Coal

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The report finds that coal-fired power stations belonging to Eskom, South Africa’s energy utility, are the primary driver for poor outdoor air quality in the Highveld region in Mpumalanga. What this means for the communities that live there is severely poor health, particularly in the form of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases that can lead to death.

The True Cost of Coal

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Traditionally considered the cheapest fuel around, the market price for coal ignores its most significant impacts. These so-called "external costs" manifests themselves as damages such as respiratory diseases, mining accidents, acid rain, smog pollution, reduced agricultural yields and climate change. The harm caused by mining and burning coal is not reflected in its price per tonne or its costs for a kWh of electricity, but the world at large is nevertheless paying for it. This report seeks to answer the question: just how much are we paying?

Towards Climate Catastrophe

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This factsheet outlines coal's contribution to global climate change and why we need to urgently make the transition from coal to renewables. Scientists have found that more than 80% of known coal reserves need to stay in the ground in order to stay within 2 degrees celsius of global warming, the globally accepted limit.

Insatiable Thirst

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One of our planet's scarcest natural resources - safe, affordable and accessible water - is under threat from the coal industry. Vast amounts of freshwater are consumed and polluted during coal mining, transport and power generation. This factsheet outlines the major threats to water resources from continued coal expansion.

"Clean coal" is a dirty lie

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When the industry talks about “clean coal,” it is referring to a range of technologies that burn coal more efficiently, and pollution controls that remove some of the nastiest pollutants from the smokestack. Yet even the most efficient coal-fired power plants only operate at around 44% efficiency, meaning that 56% of the energy content of the coal is lost. These plants emit 15 times more carbon dioxide than renewable energy systems and twice as much CO2 as gas-fired power plants.

The COP19 Guide to Corporate Lobbying

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A guide exposing corporate lobbying and industry capture of COP19, the yearly UN climate negotiations, taking place in Warsaw, 11-22 November 2013. It also covers the false solutions that are being offered up by these corporate lobbies, such as shale gas, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon markets.

Less is More

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Europe’s reliance on materials from outside its borders is not sustainable. This report explores three different commodities – lithium, aluminium and cotton – to exemplify how our linear consumption patterns (extraction, manufacture, use and disposal) not only have major social, economic and environmental impacts, but also represent a missed opportunity for job creation and global resource security.

Opening Pandora's Box

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The expansion of extractive industries is a major driver of land grabbing globally, and poses a significant threat to the world’s indigenous communities, farmers and local food production systems, as well as to precious water, forests, biodiversity, critical ecosystems and climate change.

Lessons UNlearned

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The will and the capacity of the UN and Member States to deal with natural resource-fuelled conflicts is weak. Global Witness recommends disrupting the trade that fuels armed violence; demilitarising control of natural resources; and strengthening natural resource governance.

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