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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.

Reports: CIA finds "Havana Syndrome" unlikely caused by foreign campaign

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill last April. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

A preliminary CIA report rules out a foreign global campaign as the cause of American and Canadian diplomats affected by a mysterious illness known as "Havana syndrome," per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Some lawmakers had suggested the sometimes debilitating illness was due to directed energy attacks. But CIA officials told the New York Times that most of the 1,000 cases reported to the government could be "explained by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress." This finding has angered some victims, per the NYT.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.