Monthly Archives: January 2013

China’s Coal Consumption Approaches Total of Rest of World

It’s not always that I agree with Time. But this time I do, even if they’re a bit late to the party.

“As the data shows, China is now burning almost as much coal as the rest of the world—combined. And despite impressive support from Beijing for renewable energy and a dawning understanding about the dangers of air pollution, coal use in China is poised to continue rising, if slower than it has in recent years. That’s deadly for the Chinese people—see the truly horrific air pollution in Beijing this past month—and it’s dangerous for the rest of the world. Coal already accounts for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the biggest causes of man-made climate change. Combine that with the direct damage that air pollution from coal combustion does to human health, and there’s a reason why some have called coal the enemy of the human race.”

Read more:

The developing world outpaces the DOE’s predictions… by a lot

Regular readers will remember that I predicted that China would be using 247 quads by 2030, far more than the Department of Energy’s forecast of 163 quads.  Is it possible they will be using even more than my pessimistic prediction?

“Data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics show the total energy consumed in China in 2011 (including 3.48 billion tons standard coal) increasing by 7 percent year-on-year. Experts estimate that the growth rate of energy consumption in 2012 will drop below 5 percent, hitting a 10-year low since 2002. Meanwhile, coal imports have increased by 60 percent to 290 million tons in 2012.”

Chinese miners process coal from a mine

The U.S. DOE’s International Energy Outlook for 2011 (they canceled their 2012 edition) predicted an average annual growth rate for China’s energy consumption at 2.3% through 2035.

If China continues to increase energy consumption at 7% annually, by 2030 their consumption could reach 316 quads.

India’s growth in energy consumption has averaged 8% per year for the past decade–the DOE predicted their growth would be slower than China’s. If they continue at their present pace they will reach 237 quads by 2030.

The two countries alone will consume more energy than the entire world did in 2012.

Forget toys, Lenovo computers and iPhones from China. And forget willing call center workers and Bollywood films from India. What they will be offering the world for the next few decades consists of pollution, black soot to float up to the Arctic and growing amounts of CO2.

I don’t blame them a bit for what they’re doing. I do hope they do it fast enough so their leaders can become as conscious of environmental impacts as some in the developed world. Many of their citizens already are–some have even moved ahead of the West in environmental consciousness.

I do blame us for ignoring what’s happening. If we’re not careful we’ll hit the 3,000 quad barrier before 2075. And it will be coming (mostly) from coal.

Look, people–I understand that the fight on climate change has real reasons behind it. I feel fairly certain that some activists have wildly exaggerated what they claim climate has already done due to global warming. I have come to believe that atmospheric sensitivity is lower than some activists claim.

But really–are we going to ignore the coal that India and China will burn to generate more energy than the entire world consumed this year?

One country is doing it right regarding coal…

…and that country is the United States of America.

From the New York Times: “A total of 55 plants have closed or have announced plans to shut down, according to a count by the Sierra Club. That will leave 395 coal-burning plants in the United States, compared with 522 in 2010, according to the Sierra Club.”

…”Nationwide, coal production dropped this year by an estimated 7 percent even as exports grew to Asia and Europe, according to the Energy Department.”

Now that’s cookin’ with gas… Let’s hope it spreads quickly throughout the world. China has more restrictive mileage standards for its cars than the U.S. Maybe they’ll do the same with coal.