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Coal mining in the United States, India, and China – the world’s three biggest coal consumers – has increased in 2017, reversing a downward trend in the use of carbon-heavy fossil fuel in recent years, according to the Associated Press.
Coal production through May is up by 6 percent, or 121 million tons for the trio year-over-year. The most dramatic change came in the United States, which saw a 19 percent rise in mining over the first five months of 2017, figures from the U.S. Department of Energy show. President Donald Trump campaigned on the promise of restoring coal sector growth. Prior to his inauguration, total tonnage mined globally in 2016 fell 6.5 percent—and the U.S. And China accounted for most of the production decline, BP reported.
Industry experts who spoke to AP said Trump’s support of coal had little to do with its resurgence. Instead, the waxing popularity of coal had more to do with changes within American energy markets, new energy policies in China, and India’s growing initiative to bring power to its most remote citizens.
And while coal mining has picked up in 2017 in the US, coal consumption “will continue to increase, mainly driven by Asian countries," Xizhou Zhou, of IHS Markit in Beijing, said. "We're seeing a recovery starting this year and an increase until the mid-2020s before you see coal plateau globally."
The U.S., China, and India produce two-thirds of coal worldwide, and the two Asian nations import additional supplies to meet demand. India’s coal production has grown over the past few years as Prime Minister Narendra Modi furthers his plan to bring toilets and electricity to the entire country.
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Coal use for power, manufacturing, and heat purposes is the primary driver of climate change, according to scientists. Forty-one percent of greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to coal burning, the Global Carbon Project says.
Earlier this month, Trump announced the U.S.’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, which would have combatted American coal use, encouraging renewables and natural gas instead. The U.S. president singled out India as part of his reasoning for the withdrawal, claiming that India would be allowed to double its coal production, while the U.S. would have to scrap the sector altogether.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…