At least not on the scale people are shrieking about:
China’s coal consumption has been falling for two years and may never recover as the moment of “peak coal” draws closer, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said.
The energy watchdog has slashed its 2020 forecast for global coal demand by 500m tonnes, warning that the industry risks unstoppable decline as renewable technologies and tougher climate laws shatter previous assumptions.
Back in the 1990s Bjorn Lomborg said that climate change wasn’t going to be all that much of a problem. If we just straight line forecast the increasing cost efficiency of solar we will see that people will quite naturally start shifting to that in the early 2020s. My how he was shouted at for having said that.
“The golden age of coal seems to be over,” said the IEA’s medium-term market report. “Given the dramatic fall in the cost of solar and wind generation and the stronger climate policies that are anticipated, the question is whether coal prices will ever recover.”
“The coal industry is facing huge pressures, and the main reason is China,” said Fatih Birol, the agency’s director.
The IEA reported that China’s coal demand fell by 2.9pc in 2014 and the slide has accelerated this year as the steel and cement bubble bursts. The country produced more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the US in the entire 20th century, according to one study. This will never happen again.
And here we are in the last lap before those early 2020s and solar has been plummeting in price. And we don’t think coal consumption is going to be anything like what it could have been without that now cheaper solar.
As Matt Ridley likes to point out this makes A1FI, and RCP 8.5, the two models which just about every alarmist refers to as “business as usual” not just not a BAU but one of the futures that we know simply will not happen.
The possible damages in the future are therefore wrong. And we know they’re wrong.
The truth being that a lot of what we needed to do to “beat” climate change has already been done. We’ve gone and invented a non-fossil fuel manner of getting our electricity in a soon to be economic manner. That’s pretty much all we did ever need to do, we’ve done it, we’re done.
Sure, there’s deployment still to come but that can be left to markets unadorned. Why would people build the more expensive method of power generation?