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The coal industry can, and must, radically transform and diversify to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

This was the message from Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, speaking to the International Coal and Climate Summit, organised by the Polish government and the World Coal Association.

Directly addressing the CEOs of major coal companies, she said: “Let me be clear from the outset that my joining you today is neither a tacit approval of coal use, nor is it a call for the immediate disappearance of coal. But I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone’s sake.”

The World Coal Summit is taking place shortly after the release of the findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shows that human-generated climate change is real and accelerating, and at the same time as the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw.

Ms. Figueres said that in order to make this radical transformation, further capital expenditure on coal could only go ahead if it is compatible with the 2 degree Celsius limit. She pointed to the building groundswell of climate action and climate change-related policies at all levels of government and society.

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