Responsible Sourcing: Understanding the Challenges
Burning coal has a negative impact on the earth’s climate. Several countries are considering phasing out coal as part of their climate strategy. This could impact many of our assets. Nevertheless, coal remains an important ingredient in the current energy mix, including ours.
Coal accounts for about 9 GW of our European generation fleet’s total installed capacity of 28 GW (hard coal and lignite). Our Commodity Trading unit also buys and sells coal. In several coal-producing countries, mining is associated with negative impacts on local communities and the environment.
We source coal from several countries such as Russia, South Africa, and Colombia.
125 container ships
The amount of coal Uniper procured in 2016 – 25 million metric tons – would fit 125 times in the world’s longest container ship. We procured this coal for our own plants and for third parties.
While we still rely on coal, our main task is to live up to our responsibility for the fuel we procure. This means working with other key players in the industry to foster improvements along the coal supply chain. An important part of this is to understand the specific country-related challenges.
It’s important for us to take responsibility for coal and other commodities we trade. We work closely together with governments, the Dutch embassies in the countries we source coal from, and a broader range of different stakeholders. In doing so, we’re trying to build a strong multi-stakeholder network that’s committed to tackling the challenges in producer countries. Our most important approach is to engage with Bettercoal and also to listen to the concerns of NGOs.
Edwin Kotylak, Political and Public Affairs manager (Uniper in Benelux)
Two perspectives on coal
Last year we visited mines, local authorities, and the Dutch embassy in South Africa. We also went to communities to listen to their concerns, which was only possible with the support of NGOs. This resulted in action plans for both the government and the utilities.
We joined a similar mission in Columbia, organised this time by Bettercoal. Through a series of meetings with relevant stakeholders, the mission increased Bettercoal’s visibility in this country. As a result, two large Colombian coal producers expressed their intention to be more involved in the Bettercoal assessment programme during 2017.