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Coal Financing Ban Could Ease Water Woes

Coal plant and waterThe World Bank has agreed an energy strategy to all but stop its financing of coal plants. The plan will limit such financing to “rare circumstances,” and to countries that have “no feasible alternatives” to coal, Reuters reports. The bank also strengthened its support for hydro-electric projects.

Reuters reports that the plan may not create an immediate impact, since coal can raise funds by other means, but could send a signal pushing countries towards alternative power.

If it succeeds in boosting energy from renewable sources – a big if – the policy change will not only cut greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce local water pressures. Coal is a major water user, withdrawing up to 50,000 gallons per megawatt-hour and consuming up to 1,100, the Union of Concerned Scientists says (citing J. Macknick, R. Newmark, G. Heath, and K.C. Hallet, in Environmental Research Letters). In contrast, a UCS report published this week details the massive water savings possible with investment in renewables and energy efficiency.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

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