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Coal producers are going bankrupt in the United States, while new coal-fired power plants are to be built in China and India
According to the latest estimates, global carbon dioxide emissions are up 0.6% this year. And this is at a time when, according to scientists, the world must dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent the most serious climate change. However, there is some good news in the published data: burning coal is the largest source of carbon dioxide, and coal consumption has declined slightly this year. Some experts talk about a global move away from the use of “dirty” fuels.
Three of the top 10 largest coal producers in the United States have gone bankrupt this year, just another victim of industry decline..
Coal production is down more than a third from its 2008 peak, and this decline is expected to continue.
The head of the Kentucky Department of Energy and Environment Charles Snavely previously worked in the coal industry. At a conference in May, he drew a grim perspective for her..
According to him, “it is wiser to assume a decrease in indicators than an increase.”.
“And if we are already forecasting a significant decline after a while, then I think everything will be even worse,” he said..
President Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 to revive the coal industry.
He has loosened air pollution regulations that he says are holding back the industry, but coal-fired power plants are still shutting down across the country..
Advances in drilling have made natural gas cheaper. The cost of wind and solar energy has also declined. It happened faster than expected, says University of Wyoming economist Robert Godby.
“Market forces in a very short time have moved the coal market to a place that most of us did not foresee,” he says..
Coal jobs have not recovered since Trump took office.
These changes in the market have been one of the reasons behind the decline in global coal emissions by nearly 1 percent this year, says Stanford University’s Rob Jackson, who leads the Global Carbon Project..
“We are seeing a rapid decline in coal consumption, both here in the US and in Europe. In both places, coal consumption has dropped by about 10 percent this year alone, which is amazing, ”says the expert..
But in the same year, the use of coal increased in India and China – the largest consumer of this fuel. This practically offset the decline in other regions. In addition, both countries are about to build new coal-fired power plants, raising concerns about future carbon dioxide emissions..
But, perhaps, these power plants will not be intensively exploited. China and India have already built more power plants than they use, says Tim Buckley of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis..
“Each coal-fired power plant is used on average only half the days a year,” he says. “Therefore, it turns out that you are creating idle production capacities, which are excessive for the country.”.
But even with the decline in coal consumption, greenhouse gas emissions from burning oil continue to grow. The use of natural gas is also on the rise. Jackson thinks it’s bad news for the climate.
“Offsets in the form of reduced coal consumption in countries like the US and Europe are simply not enough to stabilize and ultimately reduce global emissions,” he explains..
To truly tackle climate change, he said, humankind must seriously think about reducing all fossil fuels..