In 2011, China’s coal use went up to 3.8 billion tons, or a rise of 9 percent. But in that same year, global consumption excluding China was at 4.3 billion tons. To put that in perspective, the nation is now likely consuming as much coal as the whole of the rest of the world combined.
Indeed, this rapid increase in Chinese consumption of coal has accounted for the coincident rise in greenhouse gas emissions recently, despite the U.S. and Europe working hard to curb their reliance on the fossil fuel.
In 2012, however, as the Chinese economy dipped a bit, its increase in coal use slowed somewhat. And its ongoing investment in nuclear reactors offers hope that its rampant use of polluting coal is not a long-term concern.
It’s possible, then, that the China-coal problem won’t be around for too much longer.
On the other hand, the Washington Post reports that the International Energy Agency expects India to become the world’s second-largest coal consumer by 2017.
A separate study, the BP World Energy Outlook 2030, positions India in the second-largest coal consumer role by 2034, and indicates that almost 90 percent of global coal demand growth will come from India and China through 2030.
However, as The Hindu’s Business Line notes, coal demand growth tends to taper off as industrial infrastructure begins to show energy efficiency gains. Both India and China have shown growth in coal demand dropping to about 3.5 percent annually after an initial period of high demand growth.