Coal demand to grow through 2019

Global demand for coal will grow through at least 2019, led by China, India and southeast Asian countries, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.

Declines in demand from the United States and Europe, caused largely by pollution and climate change policies, will be offset by the Asian countries.

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Demand for coal — the most popular fuel source for electricity and the second most widely used energy source — will hit 9 billion metric tons annually in 2019, the IEA predicted in its Monday report on coal demand for the next five years.

“We have heard many pledges and policies aimed at mitigating climate change, but over the next five years they will mostly fail to arrest the growth in coal demand,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in a statement.

“Although the contribution that coal makes to energy security and access to energy is undeniable, I must emphasise once again that coal use in its current form is simply unsustainable,” she said, calling for rapid deployment of carbon capture technologies to reduce coal's impact on climate change.

Demand for coal will grow an average of 2.1 percent per year for the next five years, the IEA said.

That is smaller than the last prediction the agency made, which was a 2.3 percent growth rate for the five years until 2018. It is also smaller than the actual growth rate of 3.3 percent between 2010 and 2013.

China will be the main driver of coal demand, accounting for three-fifths of demand growth during the study period, the IEA wrote.

Despite China’s attempts to diversify its energy sources, its coal use will not peak during the five years the IEA analyzed.

Countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development will see their coal demand fall, and the United States will see a 1.7 percent annual decline, according to the report.