The global energy crisis caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine has pushed global demand for coal – the most polluting of all fossil fuels – to a record high in 2022, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday.
Coal demand is set to rise 1.2 percent and reach 8 billion metric tons for the first time this year, the IEA said in the latest edition of its annual coal report. The record comes just a year after countries agreed to cut coal use at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.
The increase is mainly due to the rapid increase in the prices of natural gas and other fuels, which has forced some countries and regions to turn to coal as a cheaper alternative.
Coal is the world’s largest source of energy for electricity generation and steel and cement production. But it is also the largest single contributor to the climate crisis, accounting for about 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use.
“Europe – and the European Union in particular – has been one of the regions hardest hit by the energy crisis, given its dependence on natural gas supplies from Russian pipelines,” the report said, adding that technical problems at French nuclear power plants they made the problem worse.
To keep the lights on, Europe turned to coal – even restarting some of its recently closed power plants.
Pieter de Pous, who heads the Fossil Fuel Transition Program at E3G, a climate research institute, said the increase in coal use was a turning point, coming “at the end of a decade that saw coal use halved”.