In Focus: Which Countries Are Driving Global Coal Consumption Growth?

While coal demand in Europe and North America is declining, Asian countries – including China, India and the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)are the main driving force of global coal demand growth thanks to their economic expansion as well as their large (and growing) populations. At the same time, however, as coal consumption increases in Asia, the need to shift away from coal to combat air pollution is ever more pressing and will therefore generate a huge opportunity to promote cleaner energy sources across Asia.

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Did you know?

  • Coal supplied 29.0% of global primary energy needs (second only to oil at 31.0%) and provided 41.0% of the world’s electricity as of 2013 (latest year for which data is available). Coal is a popular fuel because it is abundant, affordable and easy to transport, store and use. However, it is a dirty fuel as it produces more greenhouse gas emissions for the energy it gives than any other major fuel;
  • China is by far the world’s largest coal producer, importer and consumer, although the country’s coal production is declining and its coal consumption growth is moderating as the Chinese economy rebalances and overall energy demand growth slows. Meanwhile, China is diversifying its energy supply, which also helps to dampen demand for coal and results in greater use of cleaner energy sources such as natural gas, nuclear and renewables. China’s consumption of coal grew by a moderate 16.9% between 2009 and 2014;
  • Conversely, India is starting to move to centre stage in global energy with its strong economic growth, a large (and growing) population and a low (but increasing) level of energy use per capita. Between 2009 and 2014, India’s consumption of coal increased by 43.9% to reach 360 million tonnes of oil equivalent. Besides India, ASEAN countries are also driving growth in global coal consumption, offsetting declines in Europe and the USA. Over the 2009-2014 period, coal consumption rose by 83.3% in Indonesia, 75.4% in the Philippines and 78.5% in Vietnam;
  • Business opportunities arising from efforts to reduce coal consumption and promote renewables (such as wind and solar energy) can generate multiple benefits for governments, businesses and households including job creation, greater energy security, better air quality and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.