The International Energy Agency recently issued a report on coal production and consumption throughout the world. This year will see a record new high of over 8 billion metric tonnes. Demand for the fuel continues to be high in China and India.
Below is a table adapted from information on page 108 of the full report, showing consumption of coal for years 2022 and projected 2025 for some of the major users.
Coal consumption Projected
China 4250 Mt 4337
India 1103 1220
Europe 685 552
USA 465 383
World 8025 8038
The combustion of coal is the world’s largest contributor of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. In the US, coal is actually in third place, behind petroleum fuels and natural gas. The Asia-Pacific region, including China and India, now consumes 78% of the world’s coal. Looking at the situation, we are not going to renewable our way out of the rising CO2 concentration. Perhaps it is better to learn how to live with the consequences of throwing 36 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.
Apart from coal, the Global Carbon Project issued an update on total CO2 emissions for 2022. They project another new record high. These numbers are from November, so there will likely be some fine-tuning after the new year.
No sign of decrease in global CO2 emissions
Global carbon emissions in 2022 remain at record levels – with no sign of the decrease that is urgently needed to limit warming to 1.5°C, according to the Global Carbon Project science team.
If current emissions levels persist, there is now a 50% chance that global warming of 1.5°C will be exceeded in nine years.
The new report projects total global CO2 emissions of 40.6 billion tonnes (GtCO2 ) in 2022. This is fuelled by fossil CO2 emissions which are projected to rise 1.0% compared to 2021, reaching 36.6 GtCO2 – slightly above the 2019 pre-COVID-19 levels . Emissions from land-use change (such as deforestation) are projected to be 3.9 GtCO2 in 2022.
Projected emissions from coal and oil are above their 2021 levels, with oil being the largest contributor to total emissions growth. The growth in oil emissions can be largely explained by the delayed rebound of international aviation following COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
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But, world leaders will keep having their UN conferences and meetings, and will keep implementing the same failed policies that have only resulted in even more fossil fuels consumed. An informed observer such as myself might come to the conclusion that they aren’t really serious about doing anything meaningful.
“Fossil fuels are still the cheapest way to provide reliable electricity,” said Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science. (While wind and solar can be cheaper than fossil fuels in some cases, their intermittency — and the absence of cheap, big batteries — mean that it’s difficult to build an entire electricity system out of just renewable energy.) “It’s like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs,” Caldeira said. “Developing countries have to put climate concerns second to their economic concerns.”