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More American coal retired under Trump than in Obama’s second term

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A group of coal miners wave at Donald Trump Photo: Steve Helber (AP)

Remember all of Donald Trump’s promises to get the coal miners back to work? It turns out that his repeated attacks on the environment in an attempt to bail out dirty fuels were in vain. More coal-fired electricity was taken off the grid under Trump’s presidency than under former President Barack Obama’s second term, according to a new analysis from Global Energy Monitor.

Trump has only been out of office for a few months, but it’s kind of crazy to remember how hard Trump worked to help the coal industry. As well as rolling back over 100 environmental regulations during his tenure, let’s not forget how comfortable he was with coal rulers and how his Department of Energy tried to tick off items. a literal wish list of suggestions to save the coal industry. Baron Bob Murray.

But the new report, which is the 2020 version of an annual publication by Global Energy Monitor, a non-governmental organization that monitors fossil fuels, has the cold hard truth: A coal-friendly Washington was not living up to the standards. market forces. that led to coal, plus a pandemic in Trump last year that hit the industry hard.

The fact that the coal-fired power plant withdrawals under Trump have overtaken Obama shows that coal is in structural decline in the United States, Christine Shearer, director of the coal program at Global Energy Monitor, said in an email. Coal simply cannot compete with cheaper alternatives, even with a presidential administration that has done everything in its power to increase the use of coal and extend the life of coal-fired power plants.

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In Trump’s four years in office, a total of 52.4 GW of coal-fired electricity was withdrawn, up from 48.9 GW in Obamas’ second term. (Only 18 GW of coal-fired electricity was withdrawn under Obamas’ first term.) This is a little different from the number of coal-fired power plants: 289 coal-fired units retired from Obama in the second term, up from 172 at the end of Trump. But those numbers alone don’t tell the story: Many small coal-fired units retired under Obama, and the units that retired under Trump were on average larger, Shearer explained.

Before we celebrate, there is bad news on the global coal front. According to the report, the world actually added coal capacity development last year for the first time in five years, despite coal-fired power plants falling like flies in the United States and other countries. Most of this new development has taken place in China, which commissioned 38.4 GW of new coal-fired power plants last year, 76% of total new construction worldwide.

China also added a record number of renewable energy last year, Shearer said. But provinces trying to use coal-fired power projects to ease the pandemic economic downturn and relaxed government regulations meant the number of new coal-fired developments also increased last year.

Central government reforms discouraging the use of coal power have been incomplete and uneven across the country, resulting in high levels of commissioning for both renewable energy and coal, resulting in resulted in a comprehensive energy strategy, Shearer said.

Fortunately, Shearer said, much of the rest of the world is moving in the opposite direction as China strengthens its capabilities. Southern countries and [Southeast] Asia like India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Pakistan and Indonesia were all seen as the next big hot spots for coal power growth, after China, she said. But what we are seeing is government after government in these countries is canceling their coal-fired power plant projects, to the point where we do not anticipate an increase in construction in any of these countries.

As for the United States, despite the rapid pace of retirements, there is still room for more work. According to the report, there are 233.6 GW of coal-fired electricity still on the grid; Currently, only a third of these active factories are expected to cease operations by 2035. In addition, 141.1 GW of factories, more than half of which have no fixed decommissioning date. Keeping the pressure on coal-fired retirements and accelerating a clean energy revolution that focuses on a just transition for coal workers could help the Biden administration break one of many records Trump is undoubtedly embarrassed to have.

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