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PARIS: Global coal use is expected to reach a record high in 2023 as demand in emerging and developing economies remains strong, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report on Friday.

Demand for coal is seen rising 1.4% in 2023, surpassing 8.5 billion metric tons for the first time as usage in India is expected to grow 8% and that in China is seen up 5% due to rising electricity demand and weak hydropower output, the IEA said.

In the European Union and United States, however, coal use is set to drop by around 20% each in 2023, the report said.

Coal use is not expected to decline until 2026, when the major expansion of renewable capacity in the next three years should help lower usage by 2.3% compared to 2023 levels, even with the absence or stronger clean energy policies.

However, global consumption is forecast to remain well over 8 billion metric tons in 2026, the report said. To reach goals set by the Paris Agreement, the use of unabated coal would need to fall significantly faster, it added.

China is expected to account for more than half of the global renewable expansion over the next three years, causing coal demand in the country to fall in 2024 and plateau through 2026, the IEA said.

COP28 pledges so far not enough to limit warming to 1.5C: IEA

Half of the world’s coal use comes from China, so the outlook for coal will be significantly affected in the coming years by the pace of clean energy deployment, weather conditions, and structural shifts in the Chinese economy, the report said.

This year, China, India and southeast Asia are expected to account for three-quarters of global coal consumption, up from a quarter in 1990, with consumption in southeast Asia expected to eclipse the US and EU in 2023, the report said.

Through 2026, India and southeast Asia are the only regions where coal consumption is expected to grow significantly, the report said.

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