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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

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.