The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that burning coal to generate electricity is set to hit a record high despite pressure to halt global warming.
It found that rising natural gas prices had led to a resurgence of coal over the past 12 months in India, China, the European Union and the United States.
The International Energy Agency expects use in the United States and Europe to decline next year, but has warned China and India to push global demand for coal to its highest levels in 2022 to meet demand for electricity, as well as steelmaking and other industrial purposes.
She added that “these two economies, which depend on coal and have a combined population of nearly 3 billion people, represent the key to future demand for coal,” according to Yahoo Finance, which was reviewed by Al Arabiya.net.
This comes at a time when coal is the largest single source of carbon emissions in the world.
For his part, the head of the International Energy Agency, Dr. Fatih Birol, said that this year’s peak was a “worrying sign of the longer term the world has reached in its efforts to reduce emissions towards net zero”.
The increase in demand for coal-fired power comes as economies recover from the pandemic, which has led to increased demand for energy that cannot be met from low-carbon alternatives.
The demand drove up coal prices, which reached record levels in early October at nearly $300 a tonne in Europe.
The International Energy Agency expects coal to generate 10,350 TWh of electricity this year, up 9% from 2020. It believes global demand for coal will reach a record 8 billion tons next year, driven by China and India.
Countries were able to mitigate a global agreement on coal at the Cop26 climate change conference in Glasgow last month.
The deal now commits countries to trying to “reduce”, rather than “phasing out” coal consumption.
China accounts for more than half of global coal use
China accounts for more than half of global coal use, with about a third of global coal consumption fueling power plants and district heating systems.
The country is also building new coal-fired power plants to improve energy security after high gas prices and a shortage of coal forced some factories to suspend operations this year.
However, it has pledged to stop financing coal projects abroad, as have South Korea and Japan.
The International Energy Agency has warned that there is a “significant gap between ambition and action” on climate change, slowing progress.
She said pledges to reach net-zero emissions from many countries, including China and India, should have very strong impacts on coal – but these are not yet evident in our near-term projections, reflecting the large gap between ambitions and action.
Coal has been almost phased out of energy in the UK and represents just 2% of annual electricity supply, with the government aiming to phase it out completely by 2024.