In order to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels and prevent the worst effects of the climate crisis, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that coal use must be mainly phased out by 2050.
In spite of this, the International Energy Agency‘s 11th annual Coal Market Report predicts that in 2022, use of the carbon-intensive fuel would hit all-time highs (IEA).
We are not there yet, according to IEA Director of Energy Markets and Security Keisuke Sadamori, who stated in a news release that the world is near to reaching a peak in the use of fossil fuels, with coal projected to be the first to decrease. The demand for coal is steadfast and is projected to reach a record high this year, driving up global emissions.
Despite the scientists’ warnings, coal continues to be the world’s top source of greenhouse gas emissions, the primary energy source for the production of cement, iron, and steel, and the world’s top source of power.
The report’s Executive Summary stated that the IEA had forecast that coal might reach its peak in 2022 or 2023 in 2021. With demand expected to rise by 1.2 percent and reach a record high of more than eight billion tonnes, this seems to be the case. According to the news announcement, this would surpass the previous high set in 2013.
A number of factors that, in some cases, acted against one another in 2022 had an impact on coal use, which prevented the fuel from reaching its potential peak.
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According to the Executive Summary, the energy crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increased gas prices, forcing several regions, most notably Europe, to switch to coal. At the same time, this increase has been partially mitigated by the economic downturn and increased use of renewable energy.
While the amount of coal used to generate power is expected to rise by more than 2%, the amount of coal used in industry is anticipated to fall by more than 1%.
The economic slowdown brought on by ongoing coronavirus lockdowns in China, which consumes 53 percent of the world’s coal, offset a summertime shift to coal as drought and heat waves reduced hydroelectric power but raised demand for air conditioning.
In addition to consumption, it is anticipated that coal-based energy generation will set a record of 10.3 terawatt hours in 2022 and that coal production will rise by 5.4 percent to a new high of 8.3 billion tonnes, according to Reuters.
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The fact that coal use is expected to remain stable until 2025 in 2022 unless governments take extra measures to hasten the energy transition, is arguably even more worrisome than this year’s peak.
According to the press release, the spike in coal consumption in Europe is only likely to last a short while, but a decline in coal use there is anticipated to be countered by economic expansion in Asia.
There are some positive indicators. Europe’s consumption of coal should decline to levels below those of 2020 by 2025.
Additionally, despite the fact that the top three coal producers in the world—China, India, and Indonesia—plan to reach record levels of production in 2022, there is little indication that investments in coal export projects would similarly soar. This shows that multinational banking and mining firms are concerned about the long-term prospects for coal.
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According to Sadamori’s news statement, “there are many indications that the current crisis is speeding the deployment of renewables, energy efficiency, and heat pumps and that this will lower coal demand in the next years.” A secure and sustainable future will be made possible by government initiatives.