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More coal power built around the world in spite of pollution, pledges and coal end-date

Despite the fact that coal is the most polluting fossil fuel, and despite promises to reduce its use, the world continues to develop new coal power.

These are the shocking conclusions of the report from California-based NGO Global Energy Monitor, which tracks energy projects all over the globe.

GEM stated that nearly all of the newly commissioned coal projects are located in China. It called China the “glaring exception” to the continuing global decline in coal plant construction.

The world has approximately 2,100 gigawatts of capacity. An additional 176 GW of coke capacity is currently under construction at more that 189 plants. A further 280GW is in the works.


Last year, the global coal-burning capacity grew by 19.5 gigawatts. This is enough to light approximately 15 million homes.

The report stated that the 1% increase is just in time for the world to retire its coal fleet four-and-a-half times faster in order to meet its climate goals.

Flora Champenois (lead author of the report) stated that “at this rate, transition away from existing coal isn’t happening fast enough for climate chaos.”

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COP26, Glasgow 2021, was the largest climate summit in five year. Countries pledged to reduce coal use to limit global warming to 1.5C above levels prior to the industrial revolution – a goal set out by the Paris Agreement.

According to the report, although there was an increase in coal plants that were earmarked for closing, “coal’s last breath is not yet in view”.

All countries have agreed to a UN report that concluded all coal-fired power plants must be shut down by 2040 to achieve the Paris Agreement targets.

The IPCC stated that rich countries should close theirs sooner, by 2030.

GEM stated that “At a moment when developed countries should be helping other countries both end new coal plant constructions and start their coal transitions in earnest”, but many are instead planning on operating their coal plants at home well beyond the deadlines required under climate science.

Recent years have seen South Korea, China, Japan, and South Korea end their public support for international coal plants. This means that there is virtually no international public financial source for international coal plants.

China continues to invest domestically. Construction began on 33 GW of new coal power stations in 2021. This is the highest number of new coal power plants since 2016, and nearly three times the amount of all the other countries combined.

This superpower accounts for approximately 30% of the global manufacturing sector. It also has the highest emissions per capita, ranking it 48th in the world.

China was responsible for 92% of all coal project announcements. However, other countries like India, Indonesia and Turkey also announced new coal plants.

“Long-term trajectory still towards clean energies”

However, “the long-term trajectory is still toward clean energy,” said Shantanu Srivastava (an energy analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis) who is based out of New Delhi.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted in a scramble to find alternative energy sources, and the continent saw very little increase in coal use.

The IEA, the world’s largest energy agency, said that the crisis had “turbocharged” the growth of renewable energy as countries raced for energy security.

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Two out of five coal-fired generators that are in emergency will generate electricity in Britain

The UK negotiated last summer contingency agreements with several coal generators to extend the lives of five units that were due for retirement, as gas prices rose.

They were kept warm during cold spells but only two units were used to generate power for a short period in March.

Nearly 2,500 coal plants are located around the globe. This accounts for approximately a third global energy installations. The rest is made up of other fossil fuels, renewable energy, and nuclear energy.

The Daily Climate Show airs Monday through Friday at 3.30pm, while The Climate Show with Tom Heap airs Saturday and Sunday at 3.30pm & 7.30pm.

All about Sky News on Sky News’ website and app on YouTube and Twitter.

This show examines how global warming has impacted our environment and offers solutions.


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