It is no secret that these are difficult times for the coal industry – and mining as a whole. Too many mining companies continue to struggle to stay profitable – or even in business. Pretty bleak, right? Yes and no. The uncertainty can be unnerving. However, there is a significant upside: tremendous future potential. The world needs energy and demand is growing.
Caterpillar has a fundamental interest in energy as a global consumer, industrial manufacturer and major producer of energy conversion and power generation products. We believe there is no one single solution to providing abundant, reliable, secure, clean and reasonably priced energy. That said, we believe that coal will remain a part of the solution, particularly in developing economies. These countries deserve access to energy. That is why we continue to invest in innovations that use and extract coal in the cleanest, most efficient ways possible.
Caterpillar supports integrated carbon and climate policies that are environmentally effective and economically sustainable. We believe the most immediate and measureable benefits will occur through energy-efficiency improvements and corresponding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. In responding to the challenge to reduce GHG emissions, Caterpillar supports intelligent, responsible, public policies to address these issues by:
- Setting aggressive energy efficiency and GHG reduction goals.
- Investing in efficiency and emissions-reduction technologies that are important to our stakeholders and represent significant areas of opportunity for our business.
- Committing to the development and deployment of advanced technologies that capture and store GHG emissions.
- Supporting policies and mechanisms that harness the marketplace to drive innovation, mobilise investment and facilitate sharing these technologies.
- Encouraging the coordination of global programmes that maximise the use of proven mechanisms to sequester carbon in soils, plants and ecosystems.
The mining industry is making great strides in reducing the impact of mining on the environment. Caterpillar embraces the concept of mining efficiently and prioritises protecting the health and safety of miners, while mitigating the impact on the environment. Our solutions, like our carbon capture sequestration projects, are enhancing safety at mines and keeping the atmosphere cleaner by reducing GHGs and helping restore old mine sites.
In mining, it is essential for OEMs to be focused on customer success. As customers increasingly demand greater fuel efficiency and technology to reduce their GHG emissions, OEMs are motivated to help customers achieve their emission-reduction goals. For example, job site fuel efficiency is a strong consideration in our new product development efforts.
Caterpillar has been a leader in setting aggressive GHG-reduction targets. Through 2015, we reduced the carbon intensity of our operations by 32%, compared to our 2006 base year, with a goal of 50% reduction by 2020. On the consumption side, energy is critical to our manufacturing process. We spend millions of dollars every year to power our manufacturing operations. Importantly, about 70% of our global energy consumption occurs in the US, but US energy costs comprise just 50% of our global energy expenditures.
We support intelligent, responsible public policies that address climate issues and GHG reduction globally. Advocating for policy solutions that balance environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic growth are essential.
Despite divergent proposals under discussion worldwide, we believe technology and innovation play a key role in any successful strategic approach to emissions reduction – with the private sector taking the lead. Ideally, regulatory structures should be technology-neutral, allowing the development of competitive solutions. Businesses will struggle to find solutions if vastly differing approaches to GHG reduction are implemented around the world. A comprehensive, international approach that encompasses commitments from all major economies is essential.
However, we also realise that action is needed at a local level. That is why Caterpillar supports GHG policy change at local, regional and national levels through our government affairs teams and memberships in trade and lobbying associations. At each level, we support legislation that is both environmentally effective and economically sustainable.
The bottom line is that energy consumption is rising rapidly. It is also a key factor in sustainable progress and development around the world – driven by worldwide population growth, developing economies, improving global living standards and the burgeoning use of ever more energy-dependent technologies. Coal is one way to move our world forward by providing efficient, affordable energy to the billions of people who inhabit our planet. We all need coal.
About the author: Denise Johnson is Group President for Resource Industries at Caterpillar Inc.
This article first appeared in the September 2016 issue of World Coal.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/special-reports/12092016/op-ed-denise-johnson-committed-to-coal-2016-2404/