Global capacity of coal fired power plants increased by 1 percent: GEM


New Delhi: Governments across the world have recently made a flurry of announcements at COP26 to reduce the dependability on coal. More than 40 countries have pledged to shift away from coal, but the reality on the ground is much different. The global capacity of coal-fired power plants increased by nearly 1% last year (2021–22).

According  to the report of Global Energy Monitor (GEM) the  global capacity of power plants fired by coal, the fossil fuel that emits the most carbon dioxide when burned, rose nearly 1 per cent  last year, as the world recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic

 The report also found that global coal plant capacity grew 18.2 gigawatts (GW) to about 2,100 GW or 0.87 per cent.

“Despite last year’s capacity rise, the capacity of global coal plants being built in 2021 fell from 525 GW in 2020 to 457 GW, a decrease of 13%” it said.

Scientists and activists have urged the world to move off coal to cleaner energy sources such as solar and wind power and in some cases, nuclear power.

“It’s up by a small number,” said Flora Champenois, a research analyst at GEM about the capacity rise. “But it comes at a time when the world needs a dramatic fall in the capacity, not any rise.”

Last year’s surge in new coal plants of about 25.2 GW in China, the world’s top climate polluter, nearly offset coal plant closures in the rest of the world of 25.6 GW, the report said.

China has pledged to bring greenhouse gas emissions to a peak “before 2030” and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

As per the Global Carbon Project, India’s total emissions were 2,442 million tons of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e), making it the third-largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter in the world after China (10,668 MtCO2e) and the United States (4,713 MtCO2e). 

Recently at COP26, India had made the commitment to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP  by 33-35 per cent by 2030 the 2005  level. India also pledged to achieve 40 percent of electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel by 2030.    

Over 40 countries have also made committed to shifting away from coal, in pledges made at the COP26 climate summit.

Major coal-using countries including Poland, Vietnam, and Chile are among those to make the commitment.

But some of the world’s biggest coal-dependent countries, including China and the US, did not sign up.

In a separate commitment, 20 countries, including the US, pledged to end public financing for “unabated” fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of 2022.

The United States, the second-largest carbon emitter, pledged with about 40 countries at last November’s U.N. climate talks to end international finance for most fossil fuel projects by the end of 2022.

But the Biden administration may soon consider calls for exemptions to its pledge as energy markets tighten on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a senior U.S. official said.


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