Dec 18, 2018 - Energy

The disconnect over climate and coal

International Energy Agency, Coal 2018 report; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Global demand for coal, the most carbon-emitting fuel, is slated to grow slightly over the next 5 years, according to a new International Energy Agency forecast.

Why it matters: The latest projection of coal's persistence in the global energy mix arrives on the heels of major scientific reports warning that worldwide emissions must start plummeting — and soon — to avoid potentially disastrous warming.

  • "Despite significant media attention being given to divestments and moves away from coal, market trends are proving resistant to change," IEA said.
  • However, the agency's latest 5-year lookahead report trims its demand growth forecast slightly compared to last year's analysis.

The big picture: Surging demand in India and elsewhere in southeast Asia — including Indonesia and Vietnam — is driving the uptick.

  • It's cancelling out substantial declines in Europe and the U.S., which continues to move away from coal despite White House efforts to revive its fortunes.

Where it stands: Keisuke Sadamori, IEA's director of energy markets and security, said in a statement:

  • “The story of coal is a tale of two worlds with climate action policies and economic forces leading to closing coal power plants in some countries, while coal continues to play a part in securing access to affordable energy in others.”

Buzz: IEA is using the forecast to make the case for stronger global efforts to deploy Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) technologies in the power sector.

"While 2018 brought some good news in terms of policies and projects, our progress with deploying CCUS remains woefully off-track with what is required for a sustainable energy future."

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U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell by estimated 2.1% in 2019

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