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After briefly declining as the Paris Climate Agreement was finalized in 2015, global coal consumption is now poised to keep growing — albeit only slightly, according to a new International Energy Agency forecast.

Expand chart
Data: Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Flashback: A three-year decline also coincided with the world's other major climate accord, the Kyoto Protocol, which was signed in 1997. Following that dip, which was caused in part by the Asian financial crisis and other factors, coal consumption rose to new heights — the planet's current status quo.

  • "A similar upsurge is not expected in today's context, but neither is a sudden plunge," IEA notes in the report that looks out to 2024.
  • The Kyoto Protocol sought to commit developed countries to reducing their high greenhouse gas emissions. It did not set a global target for limiting Earth's temperature rise, which the Paris Agreement does.

The big picture: In 2018, the world consumed 1.1% more coal than in 2017. The IEA forecasts that coal demand in China, by far the world's biggest coal consumer and producer, will peak in 2022, then slowly decline. Global coal consumption is expected to plateau after 2024 — but China will ultimately determine global trends.

Where it stands: China and India consumed more coal in 2018 than in 2017, but total coal consumption in the U.S. decreased by 4.3%. Consumption dropped in the EU by 5.1%.

  • Renewable energy generation — hydro and wind in the EU, and wind and solar in the U.S. — largely drove reduced coal consumption.
  • The shale natural gas boom and subsequent low gas prices also affected the drop in the U.S.

One level deeper: Coal is still the planet's second-largest energy source after oil and is very profitable, as average prices last year stood 60% higher than in 2016. It also accounts for over 40% of energy-related CO2 emissions worldwide.

The bottom line: Despite talk among climate change activists and some politicians that coal is past its prime, it remains king at the global level.

Go deeper: Global carbon emissions rise again — but more slowly

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer coronavirus vaccine safe, effective in children, company says

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11, albeit at a lower dose than adults receive, the companies said in a press release announcing results from a pediatric trial.

Why it matters: The trial results are a much-needed source of hope for families with elementary school-aged children, who currently aren't eligible for a vaccine.

The pandemic made our workweeks longer

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The average American's workweek has gotten 10% longer during the pandemic, according to a new Microsoft study published in Nature Human Behaviour.

Why it matters: These longer hours are a key part of the pandemic-induced crisis of burnout at U.S. firms — and workers are quitting in droves.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky to herald "travel revolution"

Expand chart
Data: TSA. Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky will argue this week that the world is undergoing a "travel revolution," in which some parts of the industry stay shrunk but the sector ultimately comes back "bigger than ever."

Why it matters: Chesky, who faced the abyss when the world shut down last year, foresees a significant shift in how people move around, with more intentional gatherings of family, friends and colleagues — even if routine business travel is never what it once was.