Adapted from IEA; Note: IEA calculations based on data from McCoy Power Reports, Q1 2020 data are based on announced approvals in China and confirmed FIDs in other regions; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The new IEA report shows why, absent tougher climate policies, coal will remain a huge player in global power markets despite its much publicized declines in the U.S. and Europe.

What they found: Project approvals for new coal-fired power plants have plummeted over the past half-decade, but additions of new capacity are still outpacing plant closures, and IEA sees that continuing in the 2020–2023 period, driven largely by China and India.

The big picture: "Net additions of coal-fired plants in 2019 rose for the first time in five years, driven by an uptick in newly commissioned plants in China and, to a lesser extent, in India," IEA notes.

What's next: Despite ongoing plant closures, the "large existing construction pipeline" means the global coal-fired power fleet is slated to continue expanding.

  • IEA tallies 130 gigawatts worth of projects under construction slated to start operation between this year and 2023.
  • That means additions are happening faster than retirements, leading to estimated net growth of roughly 40 gigawatts, IEA said.

One level deeper: The report says the pandemic could also influence future investment by state-owned power companies in developing nations.

  • "There is a risk that some state actors fall back on familiar levers for economic development, pushing up coal use and emissions," IEA notes.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 13, 2020 - Energy & Environment

IEA cuts oil demand forecast, citing "stalling" mobility

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The International Energy Agency has again lowered its projected global oil demand estimates, "reflecting the stalling of mobility as the number of COVID-19 cases remains high."

Why it matters: The agency's analysis Thursday is the first time in several months that IEA deepened its projection of the extent of the pandemic-driven demand collapse.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.

Finally, a real debate

Photo: Morry Gash/AP

A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes. A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened." 

The result: A real debate.