It was a big deal six years ago when China passed the United States in coal consumption at 2 billion tons per year. Well, hold on. China is now poised to surpass the rest of the world in coal consumption at around 4.4 billion tons annually.
The graph above shows the pattern as tracked by the Energy Information Administration. China has nearly tripled coal consumption since 2000 and shows no sign of slowing down. Consumption continues to rise at 9 percent per year. Meanwhile the rest of the world’s consumption is growing at a rate of only 1 percent. In the United States, coal burning is now on the downswing.
The International Energy Agency expects coal consumption in China to continue growing but at a slower pace until finally leveling off around 2030. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean world consumption will start to decline. India is ramping up right behind China and is on a pace to pass the United States as the second-largest coal burner around 2017. All this doesn’t bode well for global warming.