Rise in coal production in China in 2018.
China strengthened its position as the world’s largest producer of coal and lignite (45% of the world production). In 2018 the country approved more than CNY 45bn (US$6.7bn) of new coal mining projects. Recent domestic gas shortages weakened government motivations to switch from coal to gas used for space heating and maintained an appetite for coal. China coal and lignite production accounted for 70% of the global rise.
Increased coal imports in China (up 4% on 2018, the highest growth in four years) supported a strong international coal market enabling production growth in Australia, Indonesia and Russia, three of its main coal suppliers.
India saw a large increase in production (+5.3% in 2018), driven by domestic demand and government ambitions to lessen the reliance on imports. Coal production fell in the United States on 39-year low domestic coal consumption, despite increased exports, and continued to decline in the European Union as member states increasingly commit to rid coal from the economy.
According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China energy intensity, which measures the amount of energy needed to generate one unit of GDP, decreased by 2.6% in 2019, which was lower than the Chinese government target of 3% cut. The country felt short of its energy efficiency goals in 2019 due to the fast growth in the economic sector of steel, building materials, non-ferrous metals, chemicals, and the services. However, the NDRC also announced that the country carbon intensity (the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP) decreased by 4.1% against a target of 3.6%.
Emissions under the South Korean emission trading scheme (ETS) have decreased by 2% in 2019 to 589 MtCO2, representing the first drop since the ETS entered into operations in 2015. Emissions have been driven down by the power sector (-8.6%) to 245 Mt due to temporary shutdowns of coal-fired power plants combined with a shift from coal to LNG. Conversely, emissions from the steel sector grew by 7.1% to 113 Mt fostered by higher production.
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), US energy-related CO2 emissions decreased by 2.8% in 2019, to 5,130 MtCO2, i.e. 15% below their 2007 peak of 6,003 MtCO2 and offsetting a 2.9% surge in 2018 that was due to increased energy consumption (warmer weather spurred air conditioning demand). In 2019, energy-related emissions fell faster than energy consumption (-0.9%) and the CO2 intensity (CO2 emissions per unit of GDP) improved noticeably, in a context of economic growth (+2.3% of GDP). Most of the decrease in CO2 emissions occurred in the power sector (-8.2% in 2019, i.e. -145 MtCO2), as renewable power generation continued to rise and to reduce coal consumption: CO2 emissions from coal fell by 14.6%, while CO2 emissions from the use of natural gas increased by 3.3% (limited increase in gas-fired power generation).
According to the European Commission, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) declined by 8.7% in 2019. GHG emissions from stationary installations fell by 9% to 1.527 GtCO2eq, despite a growing EU economy (+1.5% of GDP). GHG emissions contracted by 15% in the power sector, in line with the substitution of coal-fired power generation with renewable and gas-fired generation, and they dipped by 2% in industry, including in energy-intensive branches such as iron and steel, cement, refineries and chemicals. Meanwhile, GHG emissions from aviation rose by 1% to to 68.14 GtCO2eq; the aviation sector benefited from 31.3 million free allowances, covering 46% of their emissions, while 54% had to be acquired from auctions or other sectors.