Although global coal consumption almost certainly increased in 2018, it’s likely to remain stagnant through 2023, delivering neither the growth the industry needs nor the rapid decline that a full response to the climate crisis would demand, according to new data from the International Energy Agency.
“The reason for coal’s stagnation remains unchanged from recent years: Developed nations are ditching the fossil fuel, while India and other emerging economies are turning to coal to quickly scale up electric power generation,” CNBC reports. “The agency sees cheap, cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable energy sources continuing to eat into coal’s share of the global energy mix.”
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The IEA pegs total consumption at just over 5.4 billion tons in 2023, accounting for 25% of global electricity supply, down from 27% today. The projection shows coal use falling 0.5% per year in China and growing by 4% per year in India. The small decline in China “is due to policies aimed at improving the nation’s notoriously poor air quality, as well as China’s ongoing transformation from an energy-hungry industrial behemoth to a services-oriented economy,” while India’s increase is down from an average of 6% per year over the last decade.
“Coal demand will grow at the fastest clip in Southeast Asia, where countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam are building new coal-fired power plants to support economic development,” CNBC states. “In the United States and Europe, coal demand is poised to drop by more than 2% each year as developed economies continue to shut down coal plants in favour of natural gas and renewable energy.”
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