Nov 25, 2019

Coal is projected to see a record decline in 2019

Ben Geman, author of Generate
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Reproduced from Carbon Brief; Chart: Axios Visuals

Global coal-fired electricity production is projected to drop 3% this year, the largest decline on record, concludes an analysis from three think tanks published by the website Carbon Brief.

Why it matters: Reining in carbon emissions from coal-fired generation is a pillar of every major pathway for limiting temperature rise.

  • The 3% rise in CO2 from coal generation in 2018 accounted for half of that year's increase in emissions from all fossil fuels, the study notes.

The big picture, per the report: "The record drop also raises the prospect of slowing global CO2 emissions growth in 2019."

  • "Nevertheless, global coal use and emissions remain far higher than the level required to meet the goals of the Paris agreement."
  • This year's decline follows "decades of near-uninterrupted growth."

What they found: Increases in non-fossil power sources, coal-plant retirements, CO2 pricing, and the slowing global economy all contributed to the decline.

Between the lines: The report explores regional developments that led to the overall drop, including...

  • Power demand growth in China, the world's largest coal-user, slowed this year and non-fossil sources met nearly all the increase.
  • Demand growth has also slowed in India, the world's second-largest coal consumer, while generation from non-coal sources has grown.
  • In the U.S., where coal-fired generation has been falling for years, 2019 will be one of the largest annual declines.

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