Column: Coal use for electricity slips, but China, India concerns remain – – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – November 26, 2019)

LAUNCESTON, Australia – A record drop in the amount of electricity generated from coal is likely this year, something that sounds positive for efforts to mitigate climate change, but things are seldom that simple.

Global electricity from coal-fired power plants will drop by 3%, or 300 terawatt hours, this year, according to an article by three power sector and climate change analysts published on Monday in the online journal Carbon Brief.

This would be the largest decline in coal-fired generation on record and is the result of falling output at power plants in Europe and the United States, the report said. It also said that India will see coal-fired generation drop in 2019 for the first time in “at least three decades,” while China’s generation will stabilize.

China and India are significant for the coal-fired power market as these two countries are the world’s largest producers, consumers and importers of the fuel that is blamed for being a major contributor to rising carbon emissions in the earth’s atmosphere.

The Carbon Brief report said it’s likely that global emissions growth will slow in 2019. But while these statistics look positive from a climate change perspective, there are other equally credible numbers that point to growing industrial demand for the fuel and illustrate the scale of the challenge. Global sea-borne trade in coal, both thermal for use in power plants and coking used for steel-making, is likely to rise this year after three years of being effectively flat.

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