Global coal production sees biggest decline in history

a coal mine in india photo
CC BY 2.0 Wikimedia

Global coal production fell by 6.2% last year. That's the largest annual decline on record. Consumption was down, too, for the second year in a row, falling 1.7%.

Those are two big takeaways from this year's just-released BP Statistical Review of Energy—a report whose launch press release is appropriately titled "Energy markets in transition."

In many ways, we shouldn't be surprised. From the UK's first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution to India halting coal plant production in the very near future, the bad news has been coming thick and fast for coal over the last few years. Indeed, the report shows that the shift away from coal is as decisive as it is widespread, with the UK consuming 52.5% less in 2016, the US dipping 8.8%, and China's consumption dropping 1.6%, too.

Of course there's much more work to be done. The same report shows growth in both oil and natural gas (although the pace of growth was stronger with renewables). Given the fact that we were predicting a sustained global coal boom as recently as 2012, these statistics are testament to the power of activism, enlightened policy making, and clean energy innovation. They are also a reminder that predictions should be taken with a grain of salt, but what the heck: we may see similar disruption to oil markets in the not too distant future.

Meanwhile, some leaders have a different vision:

That coal mine, by the way, is creating 70 jobs.

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Coal | Global Climate Change

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