Coal demand to fall, but climate goals need steeper decline:IEA report

Coal being loaded in good train in Piparwar, India. File photo- ANI, 30 April, 2022.

The International Energy Agency in its Coal Report 2023, released recently sees lower Coal demand to 2026, based on current policies, but stronger actions are needed to drive a steeper decline towards meeting international climate goals. 

The report sees global demand for coal rising by 1.4% in 2023, surpassing 8.5 billion tonnes for the first time. The global increase masks stark differences among regions. Consumption is on course to decline sharply in most advanced economies in 2023, including record drops in the European Union and United States of around 20% each. Demand in emerging and developing economies, meanwhile, remains very strong, increasing by 8% in India and by 5% in China in 2023 due to rising demand for electricity and weak hydropower output.

However, the report expects global coal demand to fall by 2.3% by 2026 compared with 2023 levels, even in the absence of governments announcing and implementing stronger clean energy and climate policies. This decline is set to be driven by the major expansion of renewable energy capacity coming online in the three years to 2026.

‘’We have seen declines in global coal demand a few times, but they were brief and caused by extraordinary events such as the collapse of the Soviet Union or the Covid-19 crisis. This time appears different, as the decline is more structural, driven by the formidable and sustained expansion of clean energy technologies,” said Keisuke Sadamori, IEA Director of Energy Markets and Security.

The report finds that the shift in coal demand and production to Asia is accelerating. This year, China, India and Southeast Asia are set to account for three-quarters of global consumption, up from only about one-quarter in 1990. Consumption in Southeast Asia is expected to exceed for the first time that of the United States and that of the European Union in 2023. Through 2026, India and Southeast Asia are the only regions where coal consumption is poised to grow significantly. In advanced economies, the expansion of renewables amid weak electricity demand growth is set to continue driving the structural decline of coal consumption.

Meanwhile, China, India and Indonesia – the three largest coal producers globally – are expected to break output records in 2023, pushing global production to a new high in 2023. These three countries now account for more than 70% of the world’s coal production.

READ full Coal Report 2023

South Asia Times (SAT) is not responsible for any text/content, opinion or judgement in the ‘Coal 2023 – Analysis and forecast to 2026’ report by the IEA.

The above report is based on the Press Release of the IEA, 15 December 2023.

By SAT News Desk

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