Coal Production, Exports Plummet as Peabody Energy Declares Bankruptcy.
by Robert Scribbler, 13 April 2016 (condensing mine)
Jenny Marienau of the climate disaster prevention group 350.org is certainly right about one thing. A healthy world. A world full of life and of prospects for all people, all living things. A world that avoids the worst impacts of a terrible climate disruption on the road to a hothouse mass extinction. In this, far more hopeful, world there is no place for companies like Peabody Energy. Companies whose profit-making and related accumulation of a corrupting political power and influence is entirely dependent on locking in an ever-worsening global crisis.
Today that company, representing the largest coal interest in the Western World, declared bankruptcy. An optimistic announcement that comes amidst a swift sea change and a precipitous contraction in the global coal industry. One that, if world-wide public, private, protest action, and individual efforts to reduce carbon emissions on the back of 200 nations reaching a landmark global climate agreement in Paris continue in force, may well be a beginning of an end to the fossil fuel energy era.
The broadening contraction in coal has forced bankruptcies not just for Peabody, but for other major American coal players like Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources. A devastating wave for a climatologically destructive industry that appears less and less likely to survive in any form resembling its former might.
It’s all a part of an emerging supertrend that is being reinforced along many fronts. The first of which involves a broad global protest action against new coal plant construction and wider fossil fuel based energy itself. Led by key groups like 350.org, Greenpeace, and the Sierra Club, these critical actions have targeted construction sites, pipelines, railways and mines. In addition, a comprehensive divestment campaign spear-headed by 350.org has targeted capital flows to the fossil fuel special interests.
|Source: Clean Technica with US EIA data.|
Within the fossil fuel ranks there is also division. Even among the fossil fuel players there appears to be an acceptance that coal is on its way out. Messaging coming from the fossil fuel industry appears to have shifted to support of the still very harmful natural gas and for a new global fracking campaign. In essence, what we observe is that the oil and gas interests, including the new fracking interests, have basically maneuvered in a way that effectively throws coal under the climate change response bus. Coal is tougher to greenwash than natural gas and the spearhead campaign against coal as the worst of the worst among carbon polluters has proven undeflectable. This has been especially true in the UK where even conservatives are aiming to shut down coal plants (while continuing their harmful efforts in support of fracking and aimed at suppressing rates of renewable energy adoption).
Now from Raúl Ilargi Meijer of The Automatic Earth:
Demand destruction and debt deflation.What Robertscribbler and Raúl Meijer didn't tell you, but Reuters does, is that Peabody Coal bought out MacArthur Coal, a big Australian coal mining concern supplying metallurgical coal to China's steel mills, right when the price for that kind of coal was at an all-time high. As you might have known recently, demand for minerals and fossil fuels of all kinds have been plummeting, perhaps chiefly due to the recent economic stumbles in China. Of course, Mr. Meijer does keep people abreast about the trends in the general economy and whatnot, and they are not good.
• Peabody, World’s Top Private Coal Miner, Files For Bankruptcy (Reuters)[Link]Peabody Energy, the world’s largest privately owned coal producer, filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection on Wednesday in the wake of a sharp fall in coal prices that left it unable to service a recent debt-fueled expansion into Australia. The company listed both assets and liabilities in the range of $10 billion to $50 billion. Falling global coal demand, stricter environmental controls and a glut of natural gas have pushed big miners, including the second largest U.S. coal producer, Arch Coal, into bankruptcy protection over the past year.
And it is these trends which, if they continue, may put the kibosch on Business-As-Usual, and perhaps save us from the worst cases of the upcoming climate changes.