Jan 4, 2019

Decline in global coal use still too slow to meet Paris targets

A cow near one of the last five coal plants in France, in Cordemais, on Sep. 27, 2018. The French government plans to close all coal plants by 2022. Photo: Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

For the first time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has projected declining coal demand from 2021 to 2022 as well as overall flat consumption through 2023. The IEA also found that, despite recent small increases in both 2017 and 2018, world consumption still likely peaked in 2014.

The big picture: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report, OECD countries must eliminate coal by 2030 in order to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius. Now that global coal consumption may have peaked, the question is how fast OECD countries will move from this plateau to absolute declines.

While the IEA is the world’s leading energy forecaster, it also has continually overestimated coal consumption and simultaneously underestimated clean energy growth. The fact that the IEA no longer sees growth for the coal industry will therefore send a powerful signal to the market.

What’s next: Coal plant retirements in the OECD may gather speed given the rapid fall in clean energy prices, which are now lower than coal everywhere in the world except Japan. More importantly, 96% of existing coal plants will be more expensive to run than to replace with clean energy by 2030.

  • This could be a point of no return, after which retirements will accelerate faster than historical averages as utilities realize economic gains from clean energy.

Yes, but: The IEA found pockets of coal-consumption growth in the developed world, particularly South Korea. More significantly, the IEA still forecasts long-term growth in South and Southeast Asia, especially in India, which led the world in increasing consumption by 40 million tons in 2018.

The bottom line: Staving off the worst impacts of climate change will require curbing the growth of the coal industry in the developing world and phasing it out entirely in OECD countries. Peak consumption is significant on its own, but the time it takes to go from that peak to shuttering the last coal plant will prove the most important variable.

Justin Guay directs global climate strategy at the Sunrise Project and advises the ClimateWorks Foundation.

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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

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There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

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