A total of 1,250 proposed new coal power generators (or 598 GW) could potentially be added in the next few years, adding 3.6 GtCO2e greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2030 and 178 GtCO2e throughout their lifetime.
Reversing Coal Expansion:
Aggregate NDC targets can potentially be achieved by canceling proposed coal projects at early development stages, equivalent to 2.1 GtCO2e of GHG emissions.
Retirement of Existing Capacity:
Significant changes are needed to close the emission gap of 5.6 and 11.4 GtCO2e to the 2°C and 1.5°C goal, respectively, in 2030. Limiting warming to below 2°C and 1.5°C requires countries to accelerate the retirement of existing capacity.
Limiting warming to well-below 2°C and below 1.5°C requires not only cancelling all proposed coal-fired power projects, but countries must accelerate the retirement of existing capacity.
About 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, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Turkey – 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 are based on the Global Coal Plant Tracker by Global Energy Monitor (July 2018), 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 598 GW of new capacity coming online in the next 15 years, including 223 GW (i.e. about 37%) that have already started construction. As for the other newly proposed capacity, more than 16% have been authorized by their government, about 28% are going through the permitting process, and the remaining 19% 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 12.1 GtCO2e of GHG emissions globally, of which 3.6 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 581 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 2.1 GtCO2e higher than what is consistent with the aggregate NDC targets, but cancelling all projects at the early planning and permitting stages would reduce about the same amount of GHG emissions and eliminate the emission gap.
As for the long-term climate goals, 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 and 1.5°C goal by 5.6 and 11.4 GtCO2e, respectively, in 2030, making it extremely difficult to achieve these targets.
Canceling all projects at the early planning and permitting stages would reduce 2.1 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 goals of “well-below 2°C” and even “below 1.5°C” requires a fundamental shift away from coal. To be on track to achieve the long-term Paris goals, 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 long-term Paris goals, all new projects would need to be cancelled in addition to the accelerated retirement of existing capacity