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Carbon emission trading is supposed to use market mechanisms to make carbon-intense processes less attractive. Unfortunately, the EU market is flooded with emission certificates, such that the mechanism does not work.

Obviously, it would be most ecologic to leave the coal where it is. But since this does not happen, instead of buying emission certificates, it may be more effective to buy and store/sink coal to cut emissions and drive up the price.

My question is, what good ways are there store/sink coal? Just sinking large quantities of coal in the oceans is probably be a bad idea, and can have disastrous side effects. So what is known in this direction?

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  • Do you mean coal?
    – LShaver
    Dec 5 '18 at 16:32
  • It may be a language issue. I mean fossile coal that is produced from exploiting natural deposits Dec 5 '18 at 19:13
  • Could you get carbon credits by leaving coal in the ground ? Dec 6 '18 at 0:57
  • Charcoal is the stuff you get by charring wood. Still, the best solution would be to never produce/dig up the stuff, since the production/mining already leads to carbon emissions. All CCS-technology currently comes down to "put it in the ground". So... leave it, where it is.
    – Erik
    Dec 6 '18 at 9:34
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"Obviously, it would be most ecologic to leave the coal where it is. But since this does not happen..."

Actually, there are some who would like to buy the coal in the ground and leave it there as part of an environmentalist strategy, as explained in the 2014 paper "Buy Coal! A Case for Supply-Side Environmental Policy" by Bård Harstad.

Scientific American interviewed the author and summarized the paper here. Here are a few highlights:

The strategy in a nutshell:

[C]limate-concerned governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) should pool their resources and buy up the extraction rights to coal and other fossil fuels from so-called "third countries" that choose not to participate in greenhouse gas-reducing collectives.

The strategy addresses the problem of carbon leakage -- essentially, that as climate coalition countries stop buying coal, markets will expand to non-coalition countries, which will increase their emissions as a result.

This pattern is already taking shape around the globe with U.S. and Australian coal companies coping with shrinking domestic markets by planning to export huge amounts of coal to India and China. In the Harstad approach, an international coalition could outbid Asian buyers and remove the coal from the marketplace.

The paper suggests that to stop the leak, coalition countries could continue buying just as much coal as they did before -- but leave it in the ground.

Is it catching on?

Harstad said he knows of no specific cases in which such approaches are being used by governments or NGOs.

However,

[t]here is precedent, [Harstad] noted, pointing to largely successful efforts by NGOs to preserve South American rainforests by purchasing their development rights and allowing the native trees to stand.

In the United States, he said, land trusts and nonprofits like the Nature Conservancy have purchased millions of acres of land or bought easements that amount to legal barriers that keep the land out of the hands of developers.

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My question is, what good ways are there store/sink coal? Just sinking large quantities of coal in the oceans is probably be a bad idea, and can have disastrous side effects. So what is known in this direction?

You are correct, buying coal and trying to sink it into oceans is a bad idea.

Your other idea, to leave coal in the ground as nature created it, unmined, is the best idea.

First of all, leaving coal in the ground does not cost anything. To mine coal and then transport it to an ocean location and dump it costs money. To rehabilitate the mine site afterwards also costs money. This money would be better spent on other things.

Secondly, by mining coal and trying to sink it in oceans environmental damage has already occurred. Some open pit mining equipment uses diesel as an energy source. Other mining equipment is powered by electricity. If the electricity used to power the mining equipment is generated by burning coal, or even natural gas, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide will have been added to the atmosphere.

The fact that the mine would exist means that equipment must be made to be used by the mine. The mining of the metal ores - iron for the body, copper for the electric cables, nickel and chromium for the manufacturing of steel - their processing, smelting and manufacture of equipment requires energy and produces carbon dioxide and has other negative environmental impacts. It would be better to use such resources to produce electric vehicles to be used for other purposes.

Thirdly, coal generally has a specific gravity between 1.2 and 1.5 and depending on conditions, sea water has a specific gravity between 1.028 and 1.071. Because these values are very similar sinking coal is not a straight forward as sinking iron ore or steel. If coal is largely free of contaminating ash it will float on water.

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