Trump clings to coal as worldwide demand plummets

Gladys Abbott
June 14, 2017

"The scales of the falls we have seen in coal over the last few years seems to me to signal a decisive break from the past", said Spencer Dale, BP's chief economist.

Renewable energy was the fastest-growing source of electricity previous year, increasing by 12 percent.

The shift away from coal in most of the world's major economies comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is seeking to revive the fuel, having promised during his election campaign to restore lost jobs in mining areas such as West Virginia.

Oil production grew in Russian Federation for the eighth year in a row with the new post-Soviet record of 11.2 million barrels per day established in 2016, the statistical data showed. Worldwide, coal's share of the world's energy consumption fell for the second year in a row, down 1.7 percent to 28.1 percent.

The country's decreasing reliance on the fuel, large population and enormous investment in renewables mean it is increasingly being seen as a global leader on climate change, after the United States withdrew from the Paris agreement earlier this month.

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Renewables still account for a small proportion of global energy consumption but their growth accelerates every year.

Dale said: "UK coal has gone through a complete cycle from the 1800s to now". More than half that growth came for new wind turbines. These include "the increasing availability and competitiveness of natural gas and renewable energy, combined with mounting government and societal pressure to shift away from coal towards cleaner, lower-carbon fuels".

The export of Russian oil grew by 2.1 percent, to 8.6 million barrels per day a year ago, the report indicated. Germany, Europe's biggest user, consumed 4.3 percent less coal. Falling consumption in the US and China, down 8.8 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively, drove coal's overall decline.

BP's annual report - titled the "Statistical Review of World Energy" - illustrates the extent to which the global energy market is changing, with the declining price of natural gas and renewable sources like wind and solar increasingly diminishing coal's role in electricity production. As a whole, in 2016, oil production in Russian Federation rose by 2.2 percent, up to 12.2 percent of world oil production, with an average level of growth over the past 10 years standing at 1.4 percent, the report demonstrated. While some of this reflects weaker economic growth, the majority reflects faster declines in "the average amount of carbon emitted per unit of GDP", he said.

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