Coal-fired power station in Hanover, Germany. Photo: plus49/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

The International Energy Agency (IEA) will analyze the climate change and economic costs of the world’s coal plants in its 2019 world energy outlook, set for release in November, the agency's top official told Axios in a recent interview.

Why it matters: "There is an important problem here," said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. "The existing infrastructure provides a lifeline to people in developing countries, but at the same time, it’s the single most important driver of global carbon dioxide emissions."

By the numbers:

  • Today’s coal plants emit more than 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide, which amounts to 1/3 of all energy-related CO2 emissions, Birol said.
  • Coal plants in Europe and the United States are around 40 years old, but ones in Asia are far newer — closer to 11 years old — and still produce profits for the companies that operate them.
  • Those plants in particular are what Birol calls a “blind spot” in our climate and energy debate, given they are likely to be emitting for decades longer.

The big picture: IEA’s analysis will include a detailed, plant-level analysis of all the world’s coal plants, looking at what their "continued operation would mean for global emissions, energy security and costs,” an IEA spokesman said. IEA is an intergovernmental organization funded partly by its 30 member countries.

Go deeper: Why climate change is so hard to tackle

Go deeper

Hurricane Zeta makes landfall on Louisiana coast as Category 2 storm

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Hurricane Zeta made landfall along the southeastern coast of Louisiana as a Category 2 storm on Wednesday, bringing with it "life-threatening storm surge and strong winds," per the National Hurricane Center.

What's happening: The hurricane was producing maximum sustained winds of nearly 110 mph and stronger gusts.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan as cases surge in the Midwest.
  2. Health: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests, Trump's testing czar saysMask mandates help control rise in hospitalizations Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
  3. Business: Surge is sinking consumer confidence Testing is a windfall.
  4. World: Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" coronavirus wave France imposes lockdown as Macron warns of overwhelming second COVID wave Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  5. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed as COVID-19 surges MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.

What the 2020 election means for science

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 presidential election presents two stark paths for the direction of future-focused scientific research.

Why it matters: Science is a long game, with today's breakthroughs often stemming from research carried out decades ago, often with government help. That means the person who occupies the White House over the next four years will help shape the state of technology for decades into the future.