Coal the ‘fastest growing fossil fuel’ in 2013, says BP

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Despite renewable energy experiencing incredible growth last year, many parts of the world are still hooked on cheap and polluting coal, according to oil giant BP’s latest figures on energy consumption.

BP’s report says that energy from clean sources – hydro, sun and wind power – provided around 5.3% of global energy output and nearly 3% of primary energy consumption. This is thanks to the falling cost of technology and the greater levels of investment.

Solar energy in particular was the fastest growing technology, increasing by 33%.

However, the report worryingly states that coal consumption in 2013 also rose by 3%, making it the fastest growing fossil fuels, compared to a 2.7% and 1.4% growth in natural gas and oil consumption respectively.

The report says, “Coal’s share of global primary energy consumption reached 30.1%, the highest since 1970. Consumption outside the OECD rose by a below-average 3.7%, but still accounted for 89% of global growth.”

The growth has been strong in emerging economies, such as India and Indonesia, and Australia and Japan, which had recently launched a new energy plan promoting coal as a cheap and secure energy source.

However, coal consumption in Europe and in China has fallen, also thanks to efforts by the Asian giant to reduce its use, given the contribution coal made to China’s pollution problems.

The UN has repeatedly said that in order to keep global warming under the 2C threshold, a rapid shift from investment in coal to renewables is needed and overall, investment in clean energy must more than triple by 2050.

Photo: Emilian Robert Vicol via Flickr

Further reading:

COP19: coal must ‘change rapidly and dramatically’, says UN climate chief

Japan prefers coal over renewables for post-Fukushima energy mix

Coal mine explosion in Turkey leaves more than 200 dead

Coal: spelling an end to a dirty heritage

IPCC report proves fossil fuel investors are ‘wrecking our future’