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World coal capacity growth jeopardises peak emissions forecasts

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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 Financial Times or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Global coal power capacity increased by 2% last year, predominantly fueled by new additions in China and a slowdown in the decommissioning of older plants in the EU and US
• This growth marks the first rise in coal capacity outside of China since 2019, driven by new plants in countries like Indonesia, India, and Vietnam

🔭 The context: Despite the global push towards renewables, the expansion indicates ongoing reliance on coal in parts of Asia and a lag in renewable energy deployment sufficient to meet demands 
• In contrast, there have been no new coal power plant construction starts in Latin American countries since 2016 and none in OECD, European, or Middle Eastern countries over the last five years.

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Coal is the highest contributor to energy-related emissions, and its increased use complicates efforts to meet international climate targets
• The continued expansion in coal capacity, especially in regions with already existing excess capacity, directly contradicts the goals set out in the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise

⏭️ What's next: While this year's increase in coal capacity is seen as an anomaly with expectations of more plant retirements in the coming years in the US and Europe, the overall capacity additions pose significant challenges in reducing carbon emissions and achieving global climate goals

💬 One quote: "Though the clear signal from national officials is that coal must transition to a supporting role backing up renewables, which are also growing at record pace, the set-up of China’s electricity market still gives grid and local officials incentives to run coal in place of renewables to maximise revenue," explained Anders Hove, senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies

📈 One stat: The International Energy Agency reported that China more than doubled its solar capacity in 2023, and wind power capacity rose by 66% from the previous year, showcasing a significant yet insufficient shift towards renewable energy sources in contrast to the growth in coal

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