Steckel, J. C., & Jakob, M.

To end coal, adapt to regional realities

in Nature, 05.07.2022

Peer Review , Climate and Development

To stall climate change, coal power plants must be phased out globally. But king coal is far from abdicating. And that’s because global strategies are not adapted to national realities.

Coal power plants are the dirtiest form of electricity production, emitting up to twice as much carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour as do natural-gas facilities. In 2019, coal was responsible for more than one-third of global electricity generation and 26% of global greenhouse-gas emissions1 — around the same amount as all emissions from agriculture and land use. Most analyses2 conclude that global coal use needs to be cut by 30–70% by 2030 to achieve the targets of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Yet action has been slow. Although some industrial countries place weaning themselves off coal high on the political agenda, most low- and middle-income countries still regard it as essential for economic growth; environmental concerns rank much lower.