Coal is the most polluting of the fossil fuels and its use for power generation alone currently accounts for about 30 per cent of global CO2 emissions
There is “no immediate decline in sight” for coal-fired power demand, concludes the International Energy Agency (IEA) Coal 2020 report.
The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted coal use to decline, however, the report forecasts that global coal demand will begin to rise again in 2021 as the world emerges from the pandemic.
The good news is that “We expect some recovery in 2021 – about a 2.6 per cent increase when compared with this year,” Carlos Fernández Alvarez, senior energy analyst at the IEA, told The Independent. “So we will still be at lower consumption levels than 2019 in 2021.”
Over the next five years, global coal-fired power demand is expected to reach a plateau, according to the findings. This is because steep declines in coal demand in the US and Europe are expected to be matched by increases in demand in China, India and emerging southeast Asia economies, Keisuke Sadamori, the IEA’s director of energy markets and security explained. "...we are still seeing China building new coal fire plants. That is still continuing, even if on a smaller scale than previously thought. And we also expect that India will continue to gradually increase its coal demand..."
For global coal demand to start to decline within the next five years, tougher policies would need to be introduced by countries in Asia, Mr Sadamori said.
A decline in coal demand would be needed to see the world on track to limit global warming to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels, the goal of the Paris Agreement, he added.