Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Asia's insatiable demand for coal plays havoc with climate goals

A coal miner takes a shower after his shift at a bathroom of a coal mine on the outskirts of Changzhi, Shanxi province Photo: Reuters
9:37PM GMT 18 Dec 2012

For greens, ecologists, and those convinced that CO2 emissions pose a grave threat to the planet, it is a nightmare coming true. The world is becoming more reliant on high-polluting coal, not less. 

“Coal met nearly half the rise in global energy demand during the first decade of the 21st Century,” said the International Energy Agency (IEA). Wind, solar, and gas have yet to change the overall picture.
The IEA said “insatiable demand” from Asia’s rising powers will gobble up a further 1bn tonnes each year by 2017, equal to the entire consumption of the US and Russia today. “If no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade,” it said.
By a rough rule of thumb, coal produces 238 tonnes of carbon per gigawatt hour (GWh), compared with 207 for heavy oil and 99 for gas. The IEA says coal already accounts for 43pc of global CO2 emissions.
“The situation is utterly dire,” said Jeremy Leggett, head of the UK Task Force on Peak Energy and Climate Change. “The window over the next decade is absolutely crucial. The danger threshold is a two-degree rise in average temperatures above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. We’re currently on track for a rise of six degrees. The cognoscenti in the scientific world are terrified,” he said.
The great hope of carbon capture and storage (CCS) has yet to materialise, at least at viable cost. “CCS technologies are not taking off as once expected, which means CO2 emissions will keep growing substantially,” said the IEA’s Maria Van der Hoeven.
Thoughtful article continues here


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