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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.

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.