Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Since 1990 CO2 Emissions have Grown


from the Global Carbon Project

The 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, called COP-26 in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021 closed on a disappointing note. The last minute change by China and India to "phase down" the use of carbon fuels rather than "phase out" coal deflated the high hopes of many of the other participants. COP26 ended with a global agreement to “accelerate action on climate this decade.” Technically this left the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius on the table, but made it achievement far more difficult. The recent COP 28 made no further progress.

At COP 26 in 2021 India signed an agreement to reduce coal and increase its renewable energy generating capacity to 500 gigawatts by 2030 with the goal of reaching net-zero CO2 equivalent emissions by 2070. While China is the top emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, India comes in at number three and is the third largest producer of coal. India and China need to play important roles in global mitigation of CO2 equivalent emissions. However, it is not to be. It seem their action on the climate is going to be to continue to significantly increase CO2 emissions.

India is one of the largest consumers of coal in the world. The country consumed 906.08 million metric tons  of coal in 2020–21, of which 79.03% was produced domestically. Coal is the main source of energy in India. Coal generated over 73% of electricity produced in India 2021. Still, the natural fuel value of Indian coal is poor. On average, the Indian power plants using India's coal supply consume about 0.7 kg of coal to generate a kWh. Poor quality coal emits more air pollution.

In November 2023 India approve a plan that roughly double coal production, reaching 1.5 billion tons by 2030 and included more than quadrupling its underground coal production by 2030.  Underground mines generally affect the landscape less than surface mines, but according to the US EIA, the ground above mine tunnels can collapse, and acidic water can drain from abandoned underground mines. Methane gas that occurs in coal deposits can explode if it concentrates in underground mines. This coalbed methane must be vented out of mines to make mines safer places to work and prevent explosions and fires. Expanding underground coal mining expands methane gas releases.

  • Burning coal is responsible for air pollution that knows no borders:
  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2), which contributes to acid rain and respiratory illnesses
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx), which contribute to smog and respiratory illnesses
  • Particulates, which contribute to smog, haze, and lung disease
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)- the primary greenhouse gas produced from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas)
  • Mercury and other heavy metals, which have been linked to both neurological and developmental damage in humans and other animals
  • Coal ash, which are residues created when power plants burn coal

Meanwhile the news from China is no better. Last fall China announced that coal-fired power capacity would rise by more than 200 Gigawatts by 2030. That increase is equivalent to the entire energy production of Canada. Lets be honest here despite promises made year after year the CO2 emissions of the planet have grown at a compounded annual rate of 1.8% per year since 1990. Our situation is worse not better. 

from the Global Carbon Project

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