World’s coal use creeps to new high in 2022, agency says

Coal use across the world is set to reach a new record this year amid persistently high demand for the heavily polluting fossil fuel, the International Energy Agency said Friday.

The Paris-based agency said in a new report that while coal use grew by only 1.2% in 2022, the increase pushed it to all all-time high of more than 8 billion metric tons, beating the previous record set in 2013.

“The world’s coal consumption will remain at similar levels in the following years in the absence of stronger efforts to accelerate the transition to clean energy,” the agency said, noting that “robust demand” in emerging Asian economies would offset declining use in mature markets.

“This means coal will continue to be the global energy system’s largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions by far,” the IAE said.

The use of coal and other fossil fuels needs to be cut drastically to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, experts say. The ambitious target, which governments agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate accord, will be hard to meet given that average temperatures worldwide have already risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times.

The IEA said higher prices for natural gas due to Russia’s war in Ukraine have led to increased reliance on coal for generating power.

“The world is close to a peak in fossil fuel use, with coal set to be the first to decline, but we are not there yet,” Keisuke Sadamori, the agency’s director of energy markets and security, said.

Coal use is likely to decline as countries deploy more renewable energy sources, he said.

But China, the world’s biggest consumer of coal, said recently that it plans to boost production through 2025 to avoid a repeat of last year’s power shortages. And in Europe, which is scrambling to replace Russian energy supplies following the invasion of Ukraine, some countries have re-opened closed coal-fired power plants.

In an effort to curb growing coal use in emerging economies, South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam have signed investment agreements with rich partner countries over the past year that will help them boost efforts to shift to renewable sources such as wind and solar.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

3 thoughts on “World’s coal use creeps to new high in 2022, agency says

  1. From a Wilson Center Report : “China still consumes nearly five times as much coal as India, and nearly six times as much as the United States (the second and third largest coal consumers, respectively), and is building a huge number of new plants.” (Estimated to be over 300 new plants in China in 2022)

  2. All the more reason to build on the recent success with nuclear fusion energy at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The United States should lead an international consortium of nations that agree to fund accelerated research and development that can make NF the logical, effective, and efficient replacement for fossil fuels in the 21st century.

  3. The fusion reactor requires heating things up to temperatures hotter than the sun. Seems to me that this would contribute to global warming. But, climate change might be the price we pay along the way for progress. Fossil fuels made all of this possible, including the creation of fission and fusion reactors.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}