The global demand for coal has continued to fall, for the second consecutive year in a row. The downtick in burning coal during 2016 is following the growing trend in which many nations, both already developed and still developing, are turning away from the most polluting fossil fuel.
The latest report from BP detailing the global energy consumption for 2016 has shown how the black rock is on the decline. Globally, consumption of coal slumped by 1.7 percent, the second year in the row that it declined. China is thought to be leading this shift worldwide, individually the UK is certainly at the forefront as it saw an incredible 52.5 percent crash in the burning of coal.
“The fortunes of coal appear to have taken a decisive break from the past,” writes Spencer Dale, BP's chief economist. “This shift largely reflects structural factors: the increasing availability and competitiveness of natural gas and renewables, combined with government and societal pressure to shift towards cleaner, lower carbon fuels.”
A large part of the movement away from coal is being driven by China. For a third year in a row, their consumption of the fossil fuel has dropped, this time by 1.6 percent. They have introduced measures to reduce the capacity of mining and consumption, further restricting the number of days that it can be mined, as well as consolidating the smallest and least productive sites. This had the effect of cutting domestic coal production by a whopping 7.9 percent, the largest yearly decline on record.
The price of coal, which takes its cue from what is happening in China, subsequently spiked. This rise in cost for the fossil fuel further stymied the demand of the stuff, and in general favored instead the use of cheaper gas and renewables, which have seen their share of the global energy market increase. The demand for coal slumped by 1.7 percent globally, but more striking is that the global production of coal fell by a massive 6.2 percent.
Despite this clear and very obvious sign that the world is shifting away from the most polluting form of fuel, some governments are still intent on continuing to dig it from the ground. Australia is on the cusp of signing off the hugely controversial Carmichael coal mine, which if built will be the largest in the world, and will mean coal being shipped through the Great Barrier Reef. With the reef currently going through an unprecedented second bleaching event in two years, due largely to the burning of coal, the building of the mine in Queensland is irony at its most cruel.
But the world doesn’t really care what a single nation is doing, and countries will either have to adapt and change or be left behind.