Despite the PARIS Treaty, Coal Demand Will Surge

April 20, 2016:

Global coal demand is rising – undermining the Obama administration’s environmental rationale for regulating the domestic coal industry out of existence to address climate change. Real environmental leadership would instead advance low-emission, high-efficiency technology to address global emissions.

At the climate accord signing ceremony in New York Friday, the administration and its activist supporters will tout their determination to shut down the U.S. coal industry and defend or deny the related economic costs and job losses. But aggressive regulation here won’t solve the global climate change crisis they insist is real. It only creates economic hardships and distracts from the realistic solution they ignore.

Rising coal demand in Asia offsets declines elsewhere.

“Global demand for coal over the next five years will continue marching higher … China will be joined by India, ASEAN countries and other countries in Asia as the main engines of growth in coal consumption, offsetting declines in Europe and the United States.” IEA

Stagey pledges to reduce emissions won’t reduce coal use.

“We have heard many pledges and policies aimed at mitigating climate change, but over the next five years they will most fail to arrest the growth in coal demand.” IEA

Even domestic coal demand will continue to grow.

EIA’s reference case (AEO 2015) forecasts coal generation after 2016 will recover, increasing by more than 10 percent out to 2020, as existing plants run at higher utilization rates and retain a market share higher than any other fuel.

EPA’s Clean Power Plan is not a practical solution.

It alone lowers U.S. demand but at a cost of $217 billion and for a barely detectable reduction in global emissions. Despite the cost, the plan would reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by less than 1 percent and global temperatures by 0.02 degrees Celsius by 2100. The biggest coal using countries are obviously not regulated by EPA’s CPP, and 27 of our biggest coal-using states – suing to block the Clean Power Plan – don’t want to be.

Against the evidence, the administration pursues a losing strategy.

Last week the administration doubled down on this regulatory approach.  EPA submitted more imaginary benefits to the D.C. Circuit Court to justify the enormous costs of its MATS rule. Then denied petitioners’ arguments that it’s CPP draws imaginary authority from the Clean Air Act to regulate coal power plants out of existence.

A serious solution to climate change would be to make coal cleaner to use, not eliminate its use.

The administration should focus on developing advanced high-efficiency, low-emissions technologies that since 1970 have cut coal based emissions by 90%. Such technologies today are capable of eliminating 25% of CO2 and 100% of conventional pollutants from coal combustion. Raising average coal fleet efficiency from 32% to 40% with technology available today makes coal plants carbon capture ready and equals the CO2 reductions from 52 years of EU emissions trading.