The changing face of coal use in both China and India is likely to reduce the projected global carbon emissions growth by approximately two to three billion tonnes by 2030 compared to forecasts made a year ago, according to a new briefing by the Climate Action Tracker.
In a new Climate Action Tracker (CAT) Update published on Monday, the combined work of Climate Analytics, Ecofys, and the New Climate Institute explained that “positive developments” in China and India’s use of coal are likely to reduce the projected global carbon emissions by between two to three billion tonnes by 2030, as compared to CAT’s predictions a year ago. Further, the “highly adverse rollbacks” being made by US President Donald Trump “are unlikely to have a major impact on global emissions by 2030.”
Specifically, CAT believes that both China and India look set to “overachieve” their Paris Agreement climate pledges. China’s coal consumption has been in decline for awhile now, three consecutive years (2013–2016) and many believe that this trend will only continue. Earlier this year, China’s National Bureau of Statistics revealed that the country’s total energy consumption had increased by 1.4% in 2016, but that the country’s coal consumption had declined by 4.7%.
Meanwhile, India’s government has stated that it believes some of its planned coal-fired power plants will be unneeded. Additionally, the country is implementing policies to boost renewable energy capacity and reduce coal imports, which CAT believes could “see a significant slowing down in the growth of CO2 emissions over the next decade.”
“Five years ago, the idea of either China or India stopping—or even slowing—coal use was considered an insurmountable hurdle, as coal-fired power plants were thought by many to be necessary to satisfy the energy demands of these countries,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics. “Recent observations show they are now on the way toward overcoming this challenge.”
Meanwhile, while there is still significant cause for concern over the current policy moves being made in the US by its new President, CAT does not believe that these changes will have a significant impact on global emissions levels by 2030.
“The highly adverse rollbacks of US climate policies by the Trump Administration, if fully implemented and not compensated by other actors, are projected to flatten US emissions instead of continuing on a downward trend,” explained Prof Niklas Höhne, of NewClimate Institute.
Specifically, the developments we are seeing in China and India are set to significantly outweigh any negative moves we see in the US.
“In the last ten years, the energy market has transformed: The price of renewable energy from wind and solar has dropped drastically,” said Yvonne Deng of Ecofys, a Navigant company. “Renewables are now cost-competitive and being built at a much faster rate than coal-fired power plants.”