Global coal-fired electricity generation fell by 3% in 2019, according to figures released today by Ember, the climate change think tank.
Though it is the biggest fall on both counts since at least 1990 when the International Energy Agency (IEA) started reporting on them, declining coal generation is not yet “the new normal”, Ember warned.
Coal collapsed in the EU and the US; but Chinese coal generation rose and for the first time was responsible for half of global coal generation. The carbon-intensity of global electricity is now 15% lower than in 2010.
The coal fall in 2019, as well as relying on the structural shift towards wind and solar, relied on many other one-off factors. Progress is being made on reducing coal generation, but with nothing like the urgency needed to meet global climate goals, especially in Asia says the think tank
“ “The global decline of coal and power sector emissions is good news for the climate but governments have to dramatically accelerate the electricity transition so that global coal generation collapses throughout the 2020s.
To switch from coal into gas is just swapping one fossil fuel for another. The cheapest and quickest way to end coal generation is through a rapid roll-out of wind and solar.
But without concerted policy-maker efforts to boost wind and solar, we will fail to meet climate targets. China’s growth in coal, and to some extent gas, is alarming but the answers are all there. The EU leaps out with 18% of electricity now coming from wind and solar, but with the US on 11%, China at 9% and India at 8% – the race is on.” says analyst Dave Jones at Ember