Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Growth of coal use sees carbon emissions reach record high

  • Written by  Olivia Edward
  • Published in Climate
Growth of coal use sees carbon emissions reach record high Shutterstock
01 Jan
Strong growth in coal consumption has consolidated the fuel as the main source of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Global Carbon Project’s (GCP) annual analysis of global carbon emissions

Emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production reached a high of 35 billion tonnes in 2012, almost 60 per cent more than the level of 1990. Although the rate at which emissions are increasing appears to be slowing, they still grew by 2.2 per cent between 2011 and 2012.

Emissions from coal increased in several countries in 2012, including India (up 10.2 per cent), Japan (up 5.6 per cent) and Germany (up 4.2 per cent). ‘While society is seeing many positive developments in renewable energy, this increased production capacity is not simply displacing coal consumption,’ said Glen Peters, a senior research fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo.

About 70 per cent of 2012’s growth in global emissions was due to the 5.9 per cent increase in emissions from China. Coal accounted for about 68 per cent of Chinese energy consumption; hydropower and renewables for about eight per cent.

‘Even though renewable and hydro energy consumption in China grew by around 25 per cent in 2012, this growth is from a low baseline,’ Peters said. ‘The growth in low-carbon energy sources was more than offset by a 6.4 per cent increase on coal consumption.’

This story was published in the January 2014 edition of Geographical Magazine

Related items

Subscribe and Save!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3


Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby




Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...


Two whale populations on either side of the African continent…


March traditionally heralds the beginning of spring, a time of…


An innovative project to utilise Laos’ elephant experts in service…


Despite common belief that Antarctica is vastly uninhabited, humans are…


Javan rhinos survived the recent Krakatoa tsunami, but the species…


As the world turns away from fossil fuels, one question…


The winners of the Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2018…


New legislation in Florida aims to solve various environmental issues,…


The world’s magnetic model is getting an early update, as…


Marco Magrini looks at the financial pressures spilling out into the…


Few sights are more dramatic than a star-filled sky at…


A region of Antarctica previously known for relative stability is…


Everything we thought we knew about eruptions could be wrong


Sea levels are rising across the globe, but along the…


Seismometers buried in the Ross Ice Shelf have revealed that…


A tightening of restrictions on the insecticides known as neonicotinoids…


Bonnethead sharks, the second smallest member of the hammerhead family,…


There’s more than enough plastic in the world. That’s why,…


The recent discovery of more than 200 million termite mounds…


The new year still remains a popular time to set…