This photo's sepia-toned because coal plants are history. Get it? Har.

Despite what the coal industry would have you believe, the days of affordable coal-fired power are over. That’s the conclusion of the Sierra Club's recent "Locked In," a report that analyzes the wide array of financial risks coal plant investments face.

We looked into these risks because while the environmental and human health impacts of coal plant investments are increasingly well-known, the financial impacts are not. What we found was eye-opening: Some of the world's largest coal plants are on the verge of bankruptcy, but an emerging Organization of Coal Exporting Countries (OCEC) is on the rise. As the title of our report suggests, avoiding locking ourselves into this risky environment is tremendously important because, social and environmental damages aside, new coal plants are just lousy investments.