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PARIS/NEW YORK: The International Energy Agency (IEA) says the overall demand for coal from the power generation, cement and steel sectors will reach a record high in 2022 after increasing six percent in 2021.

The IEA’s latest annual market report says coal-fired electricity generation increased nine percent in 2021 to an all-time high of 10,350 terawatt-hours as wind and solar power failed to meet overall demand.

“Coal is the single largest source of global carbon emissions, and this year’s historically high level of coal power generation is a worrying sign of how far off track the world is in its efforts to put emissions into decline towards net zero,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol. “Without strong and immediate actions by governments to tackle coal emissions we will have little chance, if any at all, of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.”

The IEA says in 2021 coal-fired electricity generation grew 20 percent in the US and EU, nine percent in China and 12 percent in India.

“The pledges to reach net zero emissions made by many countries, including China and India, should have very strong implications for coal – but these are not yet visible in our near-term forecast, reflecting the major gap between ambitions and action,” added Keisuke Sadamori, IEA director of Energy Markets and Security.

According to the Rhodium Group, The US electricity power sector, which accounts for 28 percent of the country’s net CO2e emissions, produced an increase of 95 million tonnes in 2021, six percent above the previous year. This was due to a 17 percent rise in coal generation - the first annual increase since 2014 according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Rhodium estimates that economy-wide GHG emissions increased 6.2 percent in the US last year relative to 2020 and only five percent below 2019 levels. As a result progress in reducing emissions reversed in 2021, moving from 22.2 percent below 2005 levels in 2020 to only -17.4 percent in 2021 - putting the country even further behind its 2030 climate target of 50-52 percent below 2005 levels.
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