IEA Calls for “˜Radical’ Action to Curb Coal Emissions

In this photograph taken on January 31, 2013, condensation lifts from wet mounds of coal piled at a road side coal depot near Rymbai village in the Indian northeastern state of Meghalaya. Thousands of private mines employ slim men and boys that will fit in thin holes branching out from deep shafts dug out from the ground in the East Jaintia Hills in Northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya. This state is the only state in India where coal mining is done privately by mine owners, who use cheap labour to supply the demand for this energy resource. Accidents and quiet burials are commonplace, with years of uncontrolled drilling making the rat-hole mines unstable and liable to collapse at any moment. After decades of unregulated mining, the state is due to enforce its first-ever mining policy later this year.
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Dec. 16, 2013, 1:47 a.m.

The In­ter­na­tion­al En­ergy Agency soun­ded new alarms over rising glob­al car­bon emis­sions from coal Monday, even as the agency trims back its fore­cast for how much glob­al con­sump­tion of the fuel will grow in the next five years.

The IEA, in a re­port Monday, pre­dicts that glob­al de­mand for coal will in­crease an av­er­age of 2.3 per­cent an­nu­ally through 2018, com­pared with the 2.6 per­cent growth rate in last year’s five-year rolling fore­cast.

But des­pite slower growth in glob­al de­mand for the fuel, as China seeks bet­ter ef­fi­ciency and a more di­verse fuel mix, IEA Ex­ec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or Maria van der Ho­even said that “coal in its cur­rent form is simply un­sus­tain­able.”

“Rad­ic­al ac­tion is needed to curb green­house-gas emis­sions, yet that rad­ic­al ac­tion is dis­ap­point­ingly ab­sent,” she said in com­ments re­leased along­side the re­port.

“Pro­gress on [car­bon cap­ture and stor­age] is ef­fect­ively stalled, and a mean­ing­ful car­bon price is miss­ing,” she ad­ded.

Van der Ho­even, echo­ing earli­er IEA warn­ings, said the tra­ject­ory for glob­al car­bon emis­sions puts the world in store for long-term tem­per­at­ure in­creases far above the 2 de­grees Celsi­us level that’s the tar­get in in­ter­na­tion­al cli­mate talks.

Pre­vent­ing in­creases of more than 2 de­grees above pre-in­dus­tri­al levels would help avoid some of the most dan­ger­ous ef­fects of cli­mate change, many sci­ent­ists say.

In China, which ac­coun­ted for more than half of glob­al coal use last year, the growth in de­mand for coal is slow­ing down. The na­tion’s de­mand for coal grew 4.7 per­cent in 2012, which was its second-low­est in a dec­ade, ac­cord­ing to the Par­is-based IEA, which cited the coun­try’s hy­dro-power pro­duc­tion and lower-than-ex­pec­ted eco­nom­ic growth.

Still, the coun­try re­mains the most im­port­ant factor in glob­al coal mar­kets.

“While China will ac­count for nearly 60 per­cent of new glob­al de­mand over the next five years, gov­ern­ment ef­forts to en­cour­age en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and di­ver­si­fy elec­tri­city gen­er­a­tion will dent that growth, slow­ing the glob­al in­crease in de­mand,” the IEA re­ports.

In the U.S., coal con­sump­tion in 2018 is ex­pec­ted to be at roughly 2012 levels as use of nat­ur­al gas and reg­u­la­tions hold down de­mand.

“In­creas­ing shale gas pro­duc­tion will cre­ate in­tense price com­pet­i­tion for coal; en­vir­on­ment­al reg­u­la­tions on emis­sions will lead to the clos­ure of sig­ni­fic­ant coal”fired gen­er­a­tion ca­pa­city. At the same time, CO2 policy will hinder in­vest­ment in new coal plants,” the re­port states.

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