While the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the death of coal in developed nations, the dirtiest fossil fuel is alive and kicking in Asia.
Demand for electricity plunged — and with it the need for coal — as factories around the world sat dormant and people spent months at home. In the U.S. and Europe, that’s expected to accelerate the shift away from the fuel. But in Asia, which makes up three-fourths of global consumption, the appetite for coal is roaring back and expected to continue growing after briefly being tripped up by the virus.
Coal is caught between conflicting geographies — one where its demise is celebrated in favor of cleaner options, and another where the cheap fuel powers rapidly developing economies. At stake is a $200 billion industry at the crux of the global fight to rein in carbon emissions that are driving climate change.