Governments rapidly return to coal

With global coal production up 4.3 percent and consumption up 1.4 percent, the fastest rate of increase in five years, a major report by energy giant BP said the world was returning to coal following three years of falling consumption. “This strength was concentrated in Asia, with India and China together accounting for the vast majority of the gains in both consumption and production. As a result, the peak in global coal consumption which many had thought had occurred in 2013 now looks less certain. Another couple of years of increases close to that seen last year would take global consumption (of coal) comfortably above 2013 levels,” the BP report said.

BP’s highly respected annual report, which examines trends in energy demand and use, including from renewables, said last year’s global energy demand and carbon emissions from energy use had grown at its fastest rate since 2010-11. The report notes that massive investments in renewable energy were needed but would not be enough to satisfy ­increasing demands for power, most notably in China and India. Global greenhouse gas emissions overall were up 2 percent last year as a result. Most of the increase in demand for power came from China, India, and the United States – where most notably, unusually hot and cold weather led to a spike in demand for heating and cooling.

Even if renewables are growing at truly exceptional rates, the pace of growth of power demand, particularly in developing Asia, limits the pace at which the power sector can decarbonise,” the report said, and that building more renewable sources of energy could not keep pace with rising demand.

In Australia, Queensland's environment department has signed off on a plan to manage groundwater on and around Adani’s controversial mega coal mine of Galilee Basin, which the Queensland government has issued final approval for construction to begin. "You could be thinking from today, in two years' time, people should be expecting we have exported our first piece of coal," Adani Chief Executive Lucas Dow told reporters in Brisbane.

In the face of eco-activist opposition, Queenland’s State Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the decision was made solely by her department and that Cabinet members had nothing to do with it; “It has been made by the regulator and is backed by expert advice," she said.

State Oppostion leader Deb Frecklington labelled the decision a win for Queenslanders who need a job, but says it's just the beginning as she wants the Galilee Basin to be opened up to more projects, though won't soften the state's environmental laws to make the approvals process easier if elected next year. "You can't just come into Queensland and start digging up coal, it is an extremely rigorous and difficult process as it should be," she said.

Regional leaders were glad a decision had been finally made and were now waiting for Adani to follow through with jobs. LNP mines spokesman Dale Last says 19,000 people have applied for the 1500 direct jobs Adani says the project will create during construction.