November 2021
Thermal coal has been an important source of energy in most industrialised countries for several decades. Global reliance on this fossil fuel for electricity generation remains high. However, coal accounts for over 40% of global carbon emissions, with coal-fired power plants being the largest contributor to the rise in emissions in recent years.
Global climate goals have been attracting more public attention in the past decade. With coal being the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, all scenarios that meet these climate goals feature a rapid decline in coal use. However, moving away from coal is not a simple task, especially as coal accounts for over 36% of the global power mix (2019). In order for the world to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, global coal use in electricity generation must fall to 80% below 2010 levels by 2030, all coal-fired power stations must be shut by 2040 at the latest, and global coal emissions should have peaked in 2020.