Coal, Carbon, Up Globally in ’18

March 25, 2019

Chris Mooney in Washington Post:

Global energy experts released grim findings Monday, saying that not only are planet-warming carbon-dioxide emissions still increasing, but the world’s growing thirst for energy has led to higher emissions from coal-fired power plants than ever before.

Energy demand around the world grew by 2.3 percent over the past year, marking the most rapid increase in a decade, according to the report from the International Energy Agency. To meet that demand, largely fueled by a booming economy, countries turned to an array of sources, including renewables.

But nothing filled the void quite like fossil fuels, which satisfied nearly 70 percent of the skyrocketing electricity demand, according to the agency, which analyzes energy trends on behalf of 30 member countries, including the United States.

In particular, a fleet of relatively young coal plants located in Asia, with decades to go on their lifetimes, led the way toward a record for emissions from coal fired power plants — exceeding 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide “for the first time,” the agency said. In Asia, “average plants are only 12 years old, decades younger than their average economic lifetime of around 40 years,” the agency found.

As a result, greenhouse-gas emissions from the use of energy — by far their largest source — surged in 2018, reaching an record high of 33.1 billion tons. Emissions showed 1.7 percent growth, well above the average since 2010. The growth in global emissions in 2018 alone was “equivalent to the total emissions from international aviation,” the body found.

Monday’s report underscores an unnerving truth about the world’s collective efforts to combat climate change: Even as renewable energy rapidly expands, many countries — including the United States and China — are nevertheless still turning to fossil fuels to satisfy ever-growing energy demand.

“Very worrisome” is how Michael Mehling, deputy director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, described Monday’s findings.


Different story in US.


The simple laws of economics threaten to doom America’s remaining coal power plants.

Wind and solar costs have plunged so rapidly that 74% of the US coal fleet could be phased out for renewable energy — and still save customers money, according to a report released on Monday by Energy Innovation, a nonpartisan think tank.

That figure of at-risk coal plants in the United States rises to 86% by 2025 as solar and wind costs continue to plunge.

The research demonstrates how it’s increasingly more expensive to operate existing coal plants than build clean energy alternatives.

“US coal plants are in more danger than ever before,” Mike O’Boyle, director of electricity policy at Energy Innovation, told CNN Business. “Nearly three-quarters of US coal plants are already ‘zombie coal,’ or the walking dead.”

That’s despite President Donald Trump’s promise to revive the beleaguered coal industry. Trump declared the end of the “war on coal” and slashed regulations that clamped down on the emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Late last year, the administration announced plans to reverse an Obama-era coal emissions rule to make it easier to open new coal plants. Trump even appointed Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, to lead the EPA.

“Trump administration efforts to cut environmental regulations are too little, too late to save coal,” O’Boyle said.

23 Responses to “Coal, Carbon, Up Globally in ’18”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    Well. Add US shale to the mix and you end up with catastrophe.

    => Research shows that natural gas no better than coal for mitigating climate change

    => Global spike in methane emissions over last decade likely due to US shale

  2. jimbills Says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’m a bit used to just happy stories about solar panels here, and the bad news often gets a pass.

    I think we’re a ways away from ‘peak carbon’, and far away from a future of steady yearly emissions declines. The global economy is growing too quickly, renewables/nuclear aren’t growing quickly enough, and I have a strong suspicion China fudged their data a few years ago to make it look like they were cutting emissions more quickly than they actually were.

    It’s important to keep a reality-based perspective on emissions trends if there’s any hope at getting effective solutions.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      I’ve been bringing up COAL for years now on Crock, and have also been frustrated by “happy stories” about electric planes and solar and wind.

      The “reality” is the graph of coal use with the red band for “coal fired power generation”, which is responsible for nearly 1/3 of global CO2 emissions and has nearly doubled since 1990. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

      I added all the (!!!!!) because Zeke H and too many of the others just ramble on without any sign of excitement or worry about this—–it’s just “ho-hum”? WHAT is their problem?

  3. Joe Za Says:

    I posted on an earlier article but got no replies. I am hoping that I will here. I have been looking for a good graph showing the continuation of the hockeystick graph. We can see the rise in temperature up to the year 2000. Does anyone know of a good graph that shows the upward trend beyond yr. 2000 ? I have looked but cannot find any. Most people here are knowledgeable about climate change. Can anyone help me find this graph ?
    Thank you

  4. I think we might know what the great filter is after all.

  5. grindupbaker Says:

    You can see Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST) plot 1880-2018 at 0:05 at
    You can see Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST) plots 1990-2016 separately for land & ocean at 2:46 at The difference between those is what’s called “climate lag” or “in the pipiline” (the ocean is cold at 3.5 degrees and it’s a fluid, it mixes).
    If you TwitFace I suppose you can TwitFollow or FaceFollow Zack Labe and see the original (I’m preCambrian and don’t TwitFace).
    You can see Arctic region Mean Surface Temperature (MST) plots 1990-2016 separately for land & ocean at 11:47 at You can download the document in pdf at Global Linkages- A graphic look at the changing Arctic
    GISTEMP is at GISTEMP but I don’t think they plot it for you.
    UAH AMSU TLT plot is always up to date at UAH but Roy Spencer is only at 66% (1979-2018 trend) of Carl Mears at RSS and I trust Carl Mears because he already got Spencer to correct mistakes twice
    Remote Sensing Systems RSS plot S.B. on their site but I couldn’t negotiate to find it a few months ago and I gave up, too lazy.
    I don’t know whether HADCRUT4 has recent plots
    Berkeley Earth Probably has recent plots
    You could always see whether Sir Lord Monckton has an entertaining plot
    If the GMST anomaly topic interests you and you are actually interested in an aspect (ENSO is “pulling away” not seen on these dog’s breakfast composites), let me know and I’ll post as a thread (it’s a few dozen wide lines).

  6. redskylite Says:

    This is shocking news, and we can see that atmospheric CO2 is still steadily rising from NOAA’s Mauna Loa CO2 observations and other world-wide sampling sites. We are sailing dangerously close to all those targets agreed several decades ago, without much hope of meeting limits. It is up to common people (everywhere where freedom exists) to urge change, and too many still prefer to stay quiet or deny the problem. “Greenpeace” are still ridiculed and regarded with scorn by too many people.

    Whining and debating on Twitter (or Facebook) won’t cause a movement, old fashioned street protest may.

    So keep on schoolkids – the adults need reminding.

    And I thank Peter for keeping us readers updated on the increasing research and developments in alternate energy sources (as well as climate events and milestones). He has tirelessly output posts on technical developments over the years. I do not regard them in any way as “happy stories”, but much needed evolution to decide whether we sink or swim.

    • redskylite Says:

      Are you listening Trump ?

      “Anger can be a motivating force for organisation and resistance; the fear of collective wrath, in both democratic and authoritarian societies, can also motivate those in power to change their ways.

      So, not only are children, who are angry and scared about climate change, rational, they might be more so than the adults criticising them. Emotions play a bigger part in life beyond rationality – they mark values and indicate what people care about. Fear of the future and anger at inaction are ways young people can express their values. Their emotions are, in the words of feminist writer Audra Lorde, an invitation to the rest of society to speak.

      Dismissing the emotions of school children not only invalidates their rational responses to a grave situation – it implicitly states that their values aren’t taken seriously, and that adults don’t want to reach out to them.”

    • grindupbaker Says:

      I don’t know “targets agreed several decades ago”, don’t study that, but I do know for certain that humans with the GHGs have so far caused in the range of 170%-220% of the increase in Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST) that’s happened since 1880-1900 with the 50% uncertainty depending on what is the increase in aerosols “global dimming” since 1880-1900. Of course, 100% is done and adjusted with 70%-120% done but not adjusted.

  7. redskylite Says:

    The denial of climate change is not just ignorant, but “malign and evil”, according to Mary Robinson, because it denies the human rights of the most vulnerable people on the planet.

    She also told the Guardian she supports climate protests, including the school strikes for climate founded by “superstar” Greta Thunberg, and that “there is room for civil disobedience as a way of communicating, though we also need hope”.

    • redskylite Says:

      Music sometimes says it best.

      The last verse, however, is more optimistic, as it essentially advises the subject family to keep their faith strong and to maintain hope for improvement.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        With such sentiments as expressed in the song, the rulers have mostly kept people from revolting for 8000 years. Faith, getting better, afterlife is paradise, take comfort in the little things, blah, blah. Generational degradation goes unnoticed by most; we can’t smell the breath of whales going by the western shore any more, and almost unnoticed until last year, three quarters of the wild creatures of the Earth died out in a generation. Things are not getting better; they’re quite clearly getting worse, very fast. Civilization and nature are both collapsing at a speed only equalled by an asteroid in 2 1/2 billion years of life’s history.

        The people who care enough not eating meat is not going to do it. The incremental steps advocated by the other right wing of the corporate duopoly are not going to do it. While renewables are dropping in price incredibly fast as well, and we know all the other things we need to do and they’re all technically possible, the insane people are keeping us from doing them just as effectively as they were 50 years ago.

        A Green New Deal is obviously the main vehicle for real solutions. Unfortunately, obvious reality is a mystery to the insane.
        “Ultimately, 57 senators—including three Democrats—voted against moving forward with consideration of the [most important] resolution [in world history], while 43 Democrats voted “present,” leaving the measure dead for the time being, without ever coming officially to the floor.”

        “Murkowski said she favored “pragmatic” steps like more support for nuclear energy and carbon capture technology.”

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Best line in the linked piece—-Jeffy’s obsessions are well known in places other than Crock—-under comments:

          Aguirre15 to J4zonian • a day ago
          Well, I was happy to see you managed to expel this pungent effluvium without mentioning Wetiko or psychoanalysis. My compliments 😜

        • grindupbaker Says:

          Is this vote thing the thing where I turned on CBC radio while cooking supper just now and heard some U.S. politician guy say the U.S. could mitigate climate change best by manufacturing more U.S. humans (he mentioned specifically more U.S. ones and not the foreign ones) thus out-competing all other countries in that particular manufacturing sector. He sounded serious or had a very dry sense of humour.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          oops; 2nd paragraph 1st sentence should have read:
          “The people who care enough to stop eating meat, driving, etc. are too few and already not among the biggest consumers; that’s not going to do it.

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