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World’s coal use creeps to new high in 2022

BERLIN (AP) – Coal use across the world is set to reach a new record this year amid persistently high demand for the heavily polluting fossil fuel, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday.

The Paris-based agency said in a new report that while coal use grew by only 1.2 per cent in 2022, the increase pushed it to an all-time high of more than eight billion metric tonnes, beating the previous record set in 2013.

“The world’s coal consumption will remain at similar levels in the following years in the absence of stronger efforts to accelerate the transition to clean energy,” the agency said, noting that “robust demand” in emerging Asian economies would offset declining use in mature markets.

“This means coal will continue to be the global energy system’s largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions by far,” the IAE said.

The use of coal and other fossil fuels needs to be cut drastically to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius this century.

A bucket wheel excavator mines coal at the Garzweiler open-cast coal mine with wind turbines in the background in Luetzerath, Germany. PHOTO: AP

Experts said the ambitious target, which governments agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate accord, will be hard to meet given that average temperatures worldwide have already risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times.

The IEA said higher prices for natural gas due to Russia’s war in Ukraine have led to increased reliance on coal for generating power.

“The world is close to a peak in fossil fuel use, with coal set to be the first to decline, but we are not there yet,” the agency’s director of energy markets and security, Keisuke Sadamori said.

Coal use is likely to decline as countries deploy more renewable energy sources, he said.