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Climatologist asks for ban on coal investments

A top climate scientist widely respected for work against global warming has asked the Swiss government to stop investments in coal-fired power plants abroad.

James E. Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), wrote to the Swiss cabinet to praise the country for producing power without fossil fuels.

But he expressed concern that nine pubic utility companies in the country are expected to invest a total of SFr5.4 billion ($4.51 billion) in coal-fired power plants in Germany and Italy in the coming years.

That goes against Switzerland's good reputation for environmental protection, he said in the letter, which was revealed on Monday.

Hansen has asked for a moratorium on such investments and said burning coal must end worldwide by 2030 to avert what he considers certain climatic chaos.

Switzerland currently generates 40 per cent of its electricity using nuclear resources.