Coal photographed in entrance of the towers of a coal-fired power station in Mpumalanga, South Africa, on October 15, 2021.
Waldo Swiegers | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Coal-fired power generation is due to hit an all-time high this yr, in accordance to a report from the International Energy Agency, with the group’s govt director calling for pressing motion to mitigate emissions from the sector.
The IEA’s report, Coal 2021, famous the planet’s coal power generation was on a trajectory that may see it rise by 9% in 2021, reaching 10,350 terawatt-hours.
In an announcement on Friday, the IEA mentioned the rebound was “being driven by this year’s rapid economic recovery, which has pushed up electricity demand much faster than low-carbon supplies can keep up.”
A pointy rise in pure gasoline costs had additionally “increased demand for coal power by making it more cost-competitive.”
In phrases of worldwide demand for coal, which relates to areas like metal and cement manufacturing in addition to power generation, that is slated to rise by 6% in 2021.
The IEA’s report mentioned worldwide coal demand “may well hit a new all-time high in the next two years.” In phrases of coal manufacturing, the IEA mentioned this was “forecast to reach an all-time high in 2022 and then plateau as demand flattens.”
In a press release issued alongside the report the IEA’s govt director, Fatih Birol, described coal as being “the single largest source of global carbon emissions, and this year’s historically high level of coal power generation is a worrying sign of how far off track the world is in its efforts to put emissions into decline towards net zero.”
“Without strong and immediate actions by governments to tackle coal emissions — in a way that is fair, affordable and secure for those affected — we will have little chance, if any at all, of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C,” Birol mentioned.
Birol’s reference to international warming is a nod to the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, which goals to restrict heating “to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.”
The problem is big, and the United Nations has famous that 1.5 levels Celsius is taken into account to be “the upper limit” when it comes to avoiding the worst penalties from local weather change.
While it stays an vital supply of electrical energy, coal has a considerable impact on the surroundings and the U.S. Energy Information Administration lists a spread of emissions from coal combustion. These embody carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulates and nitrogen oxides.
Elsewhere, Greenpeace has described coal as “the dirtiest, most polluting way of producing energy.”
“When burnt, it releases more carbon dioxide than oil or gas, so it’s a big problem when it comes to climate change,” the environmental group says.
“Coal also produces toxic elements like mercury and arsenic, and small particles of soot which contribute to air pollution.”
The dialogue and debate surrounding coal is usually an emotive one, given its important environmental footprint and the sheer scale of the duty when it comes to decreasing the planet’s reliance on fossil fuels.
The IEA’s report comes simply over a month after the COP26 local weather change summit ended in Glasgow, Scotland.
The deal agreed at COP26 sought to construct on the Paris Agreement and stop the worst results of local weather change, though it confronted hindrances associated to the phasing out of coal, fossil gas subsidies and monetary help to low-income international locations.
India and China, each among the many world’s greatest burners of coal, insisted on a last-minute change of fossil gas language in the pact — from a “phase out” of coal to a “phase down.” After preliminary objections, opposing international locations in the end conceded.
The IEA famous how worldwide coal traits could be “shaped largely by China and India, who account for two-thirds of global coal consumption, despite their efforts to increase renewables and other low-carbon energy sources.”
— CNBC’s Matt Clinch contributed to this report