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The World Returns To Coal

Graham Lloyd, The Australian

Global coal production (up 4.3 per cent) and consumption (up 1.4 per cent) has increased at their fastest rate for five years.

The world returns to coal

Average global greenhouse gas emissions are rising at double the rate of Australia’s, exposing the mismatch between the “hope and reality” of meeting Paris Agreement goals, a report has found.

A major report by energy giant BP said the world was returning to coal, and without shale gas from the US and LNG exports from Australia the emissions reduction picture would be much worse.

Massive investments in renewable energy were needed but would not be enough to satisfy ­increasing demands for power, most notably in China and India.

BP said global emissions overall were up 2 per cent last year as the unexpected return to coal gathered pace.

The increase of 600 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from energy was greater than Australia’s total output.

Officials said the report confirmed Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions were “minuscule in ­absolute terms and lower (than the world average) in percentage terms as well”.

BP said last year’s global energy demand and carbon emissions from energy use had grown at its fastest rate since 2010-11.

The BP statistical review of ­energy is a highly respected ­annual report that examines trends in energy demand and use, including from renewables.

The findings mirrored those of the recent Global Carbon Project, which reported global greenhouse gas emissions had been steadily accelerating since 2016.

Increased demand for power in China, India and the US underpinned most of the increase in ­demand. Unusually hot and cold weather led to a spike in demand for heating and cooling, notably in North America, but BP could not say if this was a one-off due to natural variation or part of a worrying climate change trend.

The report made clear that, without shale gas in America and LNG exports to Asia, notably from Australia, greenhouse gas emissions would be much higher. […]

The BP report said building more renewable sources of ­energy could not keep pace with rising demand.

“Even if renewables are growing at truly exceptional rates, the pace of growth of power demand, particularly in developing Asia, limits the pace at which the power sector can decarbonise,” the BP report said.

Coal production (up 4.3 per cent) and consumption (up 1.4 per cent) had increased at their fastest rate for five years.

“This strength was concentrated in Asia, with India and China together accounting for the vast majority of the gains in both consumption and production,” the BP report said.

The growth in coal demand was the second consecutive year of increases following three years of falling consumption.

“As a result, the peak in global coal consumption which many had thought had occurred in 2013 now looks less certain. Another couple of years of increases close to that seen last year would take global consumption (of coal) comfortably above 2013 levels,” the BP report said.

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