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Coal Phaseout’s Pace Needs to be Sharply Accelerated to Meet Paris Goals: Report

The pace of the coal phaseout is not compatible with Paris Agreement goals worldwide as an annual average of 117 gigawatts of coal capacity needs to be eliminated by 2040, almost five times the capacity retired in 2022, a new report revealed Thursday.

International think-tank Global Energy Monitor published its ninth annual report of Boom and Bust Coal: Tracking the Global Coal Pipeline, saying that the end of coal remains in sight despite the upheaval of a “coal comeback” last year after the energy crisis was exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Today, about one-third of operating global coal capacity, 580 gigawatts, has a phaseout date and 1,400 gigawatts of the remaining capacity is under the purview of carbon neutrality targets. Only 5% of the coal capacity worldwide stands beyond the scope of a national commitment for phaseout.

Despite a high percentage of coal capacity with phaseout dates and carbon neutrality targets, “the pace of the phaseout is not yet compatible” with Paris Agreement goals.

Last year, 26 gigawatts of coal power capacity retired, while another 25 gigawatts received an announced close-by date of 2030, the report found.

The amount of planned coal-fired capacity in developing countries excluding China dropped by 23 gigawatts. However, planned capacity in China grew by 126 gigawatts, offsetting changes in other parts of the world.

The capacity of coal plants under construction and in consideration globally is 537 gigawatts, which increased by 12% year-on-year, led by China.

“To stay on track, all existing coal plants must be retired by 2030 in the world’s richest countries and by 2040 everywhere, and there is no room for any new coal plants to come online,” Global Energy Monitor warned in the report.

An average of 60 gigawatts needs to come offline in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries per year to meet their 2030 coal phaseout deadline, while non-OECD countries will need to close 91 gigawatts of coal power capacity every year until 2040.

– EU sees slowdown in coal retirements in 2022

Despite the needed fast coal plant retirements and no new coal, the operating coal fleet grew by 19.5 gigawatts, or under 1%, last year. Over half of the 45.5 gigawatts of newly commissioned coal capacity was in China, while outside China, the coal fleet continued to shrink.

Last year, the European Union saw 2.2 gigawatts of coal power coming offline, dramatically slower than the previous year’s retirements of 14.6 gigawatts. The gas crisis and Russia’s war in Ukraine led to a slowdown in coal plant retirements in the EU, according to the report.

The US saw the highest offline capacity last year with 13.5 gigawatts.

“Progress in retiring coal power plants in rich countries and cancelling new coal power projects in developing countries, despite the gas crunch that shook global energy markets in 2022, is encouraging. Outside of China, the response to the energy crisis was dominated by investment in clean energy,” Lauri Myllyvirta, the lead analyst for the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), said in the report.

He noted, however, that the phaseout’s progress urgently needs to be accelerated.

“China pulled in the opposite direction, sharply increasing planned coal power capacity, showing the need to deploy clean solutions and better enforcement of existing policies that should restrict new coal power projects,” Myllyvirta said.

In addition to Global Energy Monitor, think-tanks and non-governmental organizations including CREA, E3G, Reclaim Finance, Sierra Club, Solutions for Our Climate, Kiko Network, Climate Action Network Europe, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, Waterkeepers Bangladesh, the Alliance for Climate Justice and Clean Energy and Chile Sustentable are co-authors of the report.

Source : aa