Coal mines emit more methane than oil-and-gas sector, study finds

Coal mines emit more methane than oil-and-gas sector, study finds

SOURCE: Carbon Brief DATE: March 24, 2020 SNIP: Methane emissions from coal mines could be more than double previous estimates, according to a new study. The fossil-fuel industry is understood to be one of the biggest sources of atmospheric methane, primarily due to leaks from the production of oil and gas. However, a new paper published in the Journal of Cleaner Production suggests that coal mining may actually be a bigger contributor to levels of the greenhouse gas, with emissions set to grow considerably in the coming years. This is even more pronounced when accounting for the impact of old coal mines that continue to seep methane long after they have been abandoned. To date, attempts to curb methane emissions from mines have been limited. While there is considerable uncertainty around the contribution from fossil fuels, which makes up around a fifth of the total, previous work has suggested oil-and-gas production is the biggest contributor. Meanwhile, coal, which releases 75% more CO2 than gas per unit of energy, has been relatively overlooked when it comes to methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas. But coal can be a source of methane, too. The gas escapes from coal seams and is often siphoned off through ventilation systems to ensure a safe environment for miners. The IEA coal mine emissions estimate also comes to around half the 79Mt it estimated for oil-and-gas operations in 2018. However, the new study estimates that CMM in 2020 will be much higher than this, some 135bn cubic metres (bcm), equating to roughly 92Mt of methane. The authors also note that, for the first time, they...
Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants, Despite the Climate Risks

Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants, Despite the Climate Risks

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: February 3, 2020 SNIP: Just beyond the windows of Satsuki Kanno’s apartment overlooking Tokyo Bay, a behemoth from a bygone era will soon rise: a coal-burning power plant, part of a buildup of coal power that is unheard-of for an advanced economy. It is one unintended consequence of the Fukushima nuclear disaster almost a decade ago, which forced Japan to all but close its nuclear power program. Japan now plans to build as many as 22 new coal-burning power plants — one of the dirtiest sources of electricity — at 17 different sites in the next five years, just at a time when the world needs to slash carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming. “Why coal, why now?” said Ms. Kanno, a homemaker in Yokosuka, the site for two of the coal-burning units that will be built just several hundred feet from her home. “It’s the worst possible thing they could build.” Together the 22 power plants would emit almost as much carbon dioxide annually as all the passenger cars sold each year in the United States. The construction stands in contrast with Japan’s effort to portray this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo as one of the greenest ever. Under the Paris accord, Japan committed to rein in its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2030 compared to 2013 levels, a target that has been criticized for being “highly insufficient” by climate...
Russia finds market for its vast reserves of Arctic coal

Russia finds market for its vast reserves of Arctic coal

SOURCE: The Barents Observer DATE: November 1, 2019 SNIP: It was not alternative and green power that was discussed when Indian Minister of oil, natural gas and steel Dharmendra Debendra Pradhan visited Russia last month. The minister was on a four-day tour in the Russian Far East and he had with him a powerful delegation of leaders from the country’s biggest industrial companies. It was coal that was on top of Mr Pradhan’s agenda as he sat down with Russian government officials and business representatives. “Our negotiations must end with a successful project decision on the development of metallurgic coal, that is to be exported from Russia,” the minster said in a meeting with the Russian Ministry of the Far East and Arctic. According to Pradhan, India needs about 70 million tons of high-quality coal for its aluminum and steel industry. Pradhan and the Indian business leaders are looking towards the Russian Arctic, where they will find all the carbon-rich rocks they ever might need. Several new major mining projects are under development in the remote northern region. Among them is the projects of company Vostok Coal in the Taymyr Peninsula. Vostok Coal plans to extract an annual 30 million tons of anthracite, a high-quality coal, from its fields in Taymyr. Since 2016, the company has prepared the ground for a huge industrial project that includes several open pits and the building of seaports, roads and other infrastructure. Coal India Limited is the largest coal-producing company in the world. It produces more than 500 million tons of raw coal per year and accounts for for more than 80 percent...
China struggling to kick its coal habit despite Beijing’s big climate pledges

China struggling to kick its coal habit despite Beijing’s big climate pledges

SOURCE: CNN DATE: September 29, 2019 SNIP: [E]ven as China reiterated its commitment to reducing emissions last week in New York, earlier this month at least three large, new coal-fired power stations appeared to be either operating or under construction in Inner Mongolia in northern China. On the outskirts of the Inner Mongolian city of Xilinhot, smoke could seen swirling from a number of power plants, while others appeared to be busily under construction. China’s economy has been looking increasingly shaky after decades of unprecedented growth, driven by a global slowdown and trade competition with the United States. China’s quarterly economic growth slowed to 6.2% at the end of June, the lowest level in three decades. “This has actually been the norm that we have observed over the past few years. Whenever there is downward pressure on an economic front, there is a tendency or desire from the industry and policymakers to unleash large-scale infrastructure projects,” Greenpeace senior global policy adviser Li Shuo said. China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, far outstripping rivals such as the United States, India and Australia. But amid rising concern around greenhouse gases and manmade climate change, China’s reliance on fossil fuels has come under increasing domestic and international scrutiny. President Xi Jinping announced in 2017 that tackling pollution and greenhouse gas emissions would be one of his “three battles,” along with ending poverty and excess debt. “I think on one hand, China has already become the largest manufacturer developer and investor when it comes to some of the most advanced renewable technologies,” Greenpeace’s Li said. “But on the other...
Why it’s premature to declare coal dead

Why it’s premature to declare coal dead

SOURCE: Yale Climate Connections DATE: August 28, 2019 SNIP: Coal’s story across the world is a study in contrasts: up sharply in some places and down in others. From a climate perspective, there is no simple characterization of the global status of coal, other than to say that overall, the world is still burning far too much of it. A few indicators point to a global slowdown in coal, but it’s unclear whether that can happen fast enough to meet global climate change emissions targets. A recent post at this site covered the downturn of the American coal market as a result of cheaper and cleaner alternatives. Although the U.S. is a major player in global energy, trends in American coal do not necessarily dictate or match what’s happening elsewhere in the world. It’s premature to say, as some do, that coal is dead. Domestic use of coal for electricity generation has dropped sharply, but American coal exports are up. Growing international demand for coal has boosted prices and made coal exports an attractive economic prospect. About 15% of America’s total coal production is exported. North America and Europe are leading the world in moving away from coal, but China and India are driving a surge in coal use. Increases in the Asia-Pacific region moved global coal consumption upward about 0.5% in 2017 and 1.4% again in 2018. The all-time global peak in coal use was in 2013, but the world once again is approaching that peak. Coal use is dominated by a handful of nations. China accounts for more than half of worldwide coal consumption, and then come...