According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) "Coal is both the largest source of electricity generation and the largest single source of CO2 emissions, creating a unique challenge in transitioning to low-carbon energy systems."
The world needs to see significant and sustained reductions in the use of coal..
It is not enough to just increase renewable capacity and electrification and hope coal use will eventually respond in some way.
As you can see from this chart global coal consumption has returned to its pre-COVID levels, and so far we have no evidence of it declining again. The IEA forecasts that it will not start to decline again within the next few years.
IEA Coal 2022
According to the IEA's Coal 2022 Report "Coal markets have been shaken severely in 2022, with traditional trade flows disrupted, prices soaring and demand set to grow by 1.2%, reaching an all-time high and surpassing 8 billion tonnes for the first time."
The report also states "In our forecast, global coal demand plateaus around the 2022 level of 8 billion tonnes through 2025. However, given the current energy crisis with all its uncertainties, a lurch into growth or contraction is possible".
Another significant factor is "India’s coal consumption has doubled since 2007 at an annual growth rate of 6% – and it is set to continue to be the growth engine of global coal demand".
Many analysts focus on China's increased renewable capacity, ignoring the continuing growth in China's coal capacity and generation.
Jul 2023: Global coal demand reached a new all-time high in 2022, rising above 8.3 billion tonnes.
In its Coal Market Update the IEA states that global coal demand reached a new all-time high in 2022, rising above 8.3 billion tonnes (bt).
It rose despite a weaker global economy, mainly driven by being more readily available and relatively cheaper than gas in many parts of the world.