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Driven by China, coal plants made a comeback in 2023

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The New York Times or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Global capacity for coal power generation increased in 2023, primarily due to new plants in China, alongside a decrease in the retirement pace of older plants in the US and Europe, as reported by Global Energy Monitor

🔭 The context: Despite global agreements to reduce coal use due to its significant greenhouse gas emissions, China led with two-thirds of the new coal power plants last year
• Other Asian countries like Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Japan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and South Korea also contributed to the growth, with new plants expected to operate for decades

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The expansion of coal power challenges global climate goals, particularly the aim to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius
• Coal's resurgence, especially in developing economies with easy access to domestic reserves, poses significant environmental risks despite newer plants being less polluting than older ones

⏭️ What's next: The continuation and potential increase of coal power plant construction, especially in China and India, raises concerns over achieving the global climate target of reducing coal use significantly by 2040 
• This trend could jeopardize efforts to combat climate change and underscores the need for increased investment in renewable energy sources

💬 One quote: "Right now, coal’s future is a two-part story: What do we do about currently operating coal plants, and then, how do we make sure the last coal plant that will ever exist is one that’s already built," - Flora Champenois, report author

📈 One stat: China accounted for around 60 percent of the world's coal use last year, with coal power plants' construction in the country reaching an eight-year high in 2023

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