A total of over 860 GW of new coal capacity could potentially be added in the next few years, adding 4.6 GtCO2e greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030
Reversing Coal Expansion:
Aggregate NDC targets can potentially be achieved by canceling proposed coal projects at early development stages, equivalent to 3.0 GtCO2e of GHG emissions.
Retirement of Existing Capacity:
Significant changes are needed to close the emission gap of 9.3 GtCO2e to the 2°C goal in 2030. Limiting warming to below 2°C requires countries to accelerate the retirement of existing capacity.
Limiting warming to well-below 2°C requires not only cancelling all proposed coal-fired power projects, but countries must accelerate the retirement of existing capacity.
More than 60 countries have plans to add new coal-fired power capacity, but the vast majority of the planned activity is located in Asia. China, India, Turkey, Vietnam, and Indonesia – account for almost three quarters of the newly proposed capacity.
NEWLY PROPOSED COAL-FIRED POWER CAPACITY BY COUNTRY
Data Source: China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and United States data collection by research team. All other countries’ data from CoalSwarm (June 2017), independently confirmed and modified by the research team.
Newly proposed coal-fired power capacity by development stage, global
Our unit-level assessment of newly proposed coal power plants indicates that there is a potential total of more than 860 GW of new capacity coming online in the next 15 years, including 233 GW (i.e. about 27%) that have already started construction. As for the other newly proposed capacity, more than 10% have been authorized by their government, about 40% are going through the permitting process, and the remaining 23% are at the early planning stages.
GHG EMISSIONS IMPACT
If all the newly proposed projects are implemented, coal-fired power generation in 2030 would result in 12.5 GtCO2e of GHG emissions globally, of which 4.6 GtCO2e would come from new capacity that is currently being proposed. Translating the annual GHG emissions to cumulative emissions, existing and currently proposed coal power projects would result in a total of 575 GtCO2e GHG emissions by 2080.
GHG emission trajectories from existing and proposed coal power generation capacity would bring the total GHG emissions from coal power generations to a level that is 2.5 GtCO2e higher than what is consistent with the aggregate NDC targets, but cancelling all projects at the early planning and permitting stages would reduce 3.0 GtCO2e of GHG emissions and eliminate the emission gap.
As for the 2°C goal, if all the proposed coal power capacity comes online, the global total GHG emissions from coal power generation will overshoot the quota that is in line with the 2°C goal by nearly 9.3 GtCO2e in 2030, making it extremely difficult to achieve this target.
Canceling all projects at the early planning and permitting stages would reduce 3.0 GtCO2e of GHG emissions
COMPLETING PROPOSED COAL PLANTS DRAMATICALLY INCREASES GLOBAL EMISSIONS
FASTER RETIREMENT AND CANCELLATION ARE NECESSARY TO REACH OUR CLIMATE GOALS
While meeting NDC targets only requires minor changes in proposed coal projects, meeting the global long-term goal of “well-below 2°C” requires a fundamental shift away from coal. To be on track to achieve the long-term 2°C goal, there must be an acceleration in the retirement of existing capacity in addition to the cancellation of all new additions of coal-fired power generation capacity.
China, India, Indonesia, the United States, Japan, and South Korea, collectively account for 78% of global total existing coal power generation capacity and 66% of the proposed capacity as of 2017.
CO2 EMISSIONS FROM COAL POWER GENERATION IN 2030
*2025 EMISSIONS ARE SHOWN FOR THE UNITED STATES
Although the magnitude of and age of coal power infrastructure vary substantially in 2030 across these countries, with the estimated rate of retirement, most countries have some room for new additions and can still achieve the NDC targets.
However, to remain consistent with the 2°C goal, all new projects would need to be cancelled in addition to the accelerated retirement of existing capacity