Monday, November 09, 2015

Changing attitudes in China leading global coal use to historic declines

Global coal use is on a historic decline mainly because of changing attitudes in China, which is responsible for about half of global coal demand, Ewa Krukowska reports for Bloomberg. China’s battle against pollution, its economic reforms and its efforts to promote renewable energy are largely responsible for global use of coal falling "2.3 percent to 4.6 percent in the first nine months of 2015 from the same period last year, according to a report released Monday by the environmental group Greenpeace. That’s a decline of as much as 180 million tons of standard coal, 40 million tons more than Japan used in the same period."

"The report confirms that worldwide efforts to fight global warming are having a significant impact on the coal industry, the biggest source of carbon emissions," Krukowska writes. "The decline in coal use will help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that are blamed for heating up the planet. To limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)—the level scientists say cannot be exceeded if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change—emissions from coal must fall 4 percent annually through 2040, according to Greenpeace."

In China coal "use in the power sector fell more than 4 percent in the first three quarters, and imports declined 31 percent, according to the report," Krukowska writes. "Since the end of 2013, the country’s electricity consumption growth has largely been covered by new renewable energy plants."

In the U.S., the "share of coal used to generate electricity in the U.S. will fall to 36 percent this year from 50 percent a decade ago," Krukowska writes. "More than 200 coal-fired power plants, with total capacity of 83 gigawatts, have been scheduled for retirement, including 13 gigawatts expected to retire this year." (Read more)

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