By Brad Plumer
9 July 2015
(Vox) – Earlier this week, I wrote about the global coal renaissance — arguably the most important climate-change story in the world right now. Since 2000, developing countries like China, India, Vietnam, and Indonesia have been building coal-fired power plants at a rapid pace.
On the upside, this boom has helped these countries lift themselves out of poverty. But the growth in coal has also meant a surge in global carbon-dioxide emissions — and if coal continues to be the world's energy source of choice, we'll have little hope avoiding drastic global warming.
So that brings us to the next question: How long will this global coal boom continue?
For that, I'd recommend this March 2015 report from two environmental groups, CoalSwarm and the Sierra Club. The authors have documented, in painstaking detail, all the new coal plants that have either been proposed, permitted, or are currently being built around the world.
The bottom line? There's a large amount of coal capacity being planned worldwide, some 2,177 plants in all. Not all of these coal plants will actually get finished — many are getting sunk by local opposition or economic headwinds. But if even one-third of these planned plants get built, we run a high risk of busting through the 2°C global warming threshold. And right now, we're on track to do just that. [more]