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CEO of the WCA responds to IEA’s Coal 2017 report

Published by , Assistant Editor
World Coal,

Reacting to the latest IEA Coal 2017 report, WCA CEO, Benjamin Sporton said: “Despite the headlines, the reality is that coal will continue to play a significant role in the world’s energy system. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and parts of Southeast Asia will become the primary engines of future coal demand growth. Today, coal accounts for 27% of global primary energy demand, and is the second most important source of primary energy.”

In the last two decades alone, nearly all of those who gained access to electricity worldwide did so through new grid connections, mostly from fossil fuels – 45% of which came from coal. Despite progress in renewables, about 75% of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels—the same as in the 1970s. And with the world’s energy demand set to rise, it is safe to say that fossil fuels including coal will continue to power up many economies.

While some developed economies are moving away from coal, it’s proving to be critical to many major emerging economies where it’s needed to power economic development. We cannot ignore the many trends that will influence global coal demand over the coming years, such as significant demand growth in India, Pakistan and Southeast Asia.

Coal‘s share in the global energy mix will still be 26% in 2022, down 1% from today, and will remain the second largest source of primary energy after oil.

In its latest World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2017 report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) made it clear that Southeast Asia will increase its share in power generation from 32% in 2014 to 50% in 2040.

Globally, 24 countries have identified high efficiency low emissions (HELE) technologies as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the Paris Agreement. Many have also identified a role for carbon capture and storage technology (CCS). Most of these countries are developing and emerging economies that have to meet their energy needs, ensure energy access, and reduce emissions. They cannot achieve these without using all energy sources.

According to the WCA, rather than wishing away fossil fuels, we should direct efforts to advancing carbon capture and storage technology, which the Coal 2017 report has also highlighted as one of the critical solutions needed to decarbonise energy systems. Without CCS, climate goals will become much more difficult and expensive.

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