Saturday, June 21, 2014

Peak Coal: Why the Industry’s Dominance May Soon Be Over

A worker shovels coal at a mine facility in Anhui province in eastern China. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images) Click to enlarge.
After a decade in which coal has been grabbing an ever-larger share of the world’s energy supply, could coal’s boom be about to turn to bust?  Both the United States and China are planning to curb coal, and analysts say the repercussions for the global industry could be dramatic.  The world may soon breathe a great deal easier, as the biggest contributor to both urban smog and climate change goes into decline.

More than half of the increase in global CO2 emissions in the past decade was due to increased coal burning in China.  As a report from Greenpeace East Asia in April noted: “China’s coal consumption has become the single most significant determinant for the future of the world’s climate.”  According to Ajay Gambhir of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, if China continues on the same trajectory, it would double its coal burning again by 2030. 

But it won’t, say analysts.  China is changing.  A decade ago growth in China’s coal consumption was 18 percent a year; now it is down to below 3 percent.  Peak coal is imminent in China.

Peak Coal: Why the Industry’s Dominance May Soon Be Over

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