Chinese coal demand is a myth: report

Coal exporters and port authorities in the US and Canadian Pacific Northwest want to export more coal to China, claiming demand is steadily rising. David Roberts points us to a new report by Greenpeace USA that busts this dangerous myth.

From the report:

[China] is deliberately, and quite effectively, decoupling its economic growth from coal such that future economic growth may not manifest in increased coal consumption. The results of this decoupling are already present: A rapid expansion in hydroelectricity, wind, and solar has pushed down coal’s share of energy production from 85% to 73%, and this trend will continue. …

… Assuming Chinese coal demand continues to weaken and that it sticks to its policies to curb coal use and increase renewable investment, the Chinese market for US coal exports may dry up before major new US coal shipments ever reach its ports. [my emphasis]

The report lists and discusses nine reasons why Chinese coal demand is not steady and rising and why pushing coal exports is an ill-informed gamble for Pacific ports:

  1. A desperate industry — not sound economics — is driving U.S. coal export proposals.
  2. China produces nearly all of the coal it consumes.
  3. China’s economic growth is slowing.
  4. Coal use in China is flattening out.
  5. Chinese policy caps on coal production and consumption will decouple economic growth from coal.
  6. Renewable energy is on the rise.
  7. Chinese society is resisting coal and becoming more aware of its impacts on health and water.
  8. Unstable Asian demand has sunk U.S. coal export proposals in the past.
  9. International competitors recognize flagging Chinese demand.

In Vancouver Voters Taking Action on Climate Change are leading the defence against coal export expansion. More info about their campaign to halt more coal exports is here.