To put thermal coal’s remarkable rally into some context, international benchmark Brent crude is one of few assets to have recorded comparable gains this year. The oil contract is up 33% year-to-date.

The resurgence of thermal coal, which is burned to generate electricity, raises serious questions about the so-called “energy transition.” To be sure, coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel in terms of emissions and therefore the most important target for replacement in the pivot to renewable alternatives.

Yet, as policymakers and business leaders repeatedly tout their commitment to the demands of the deepening climate emergency, many still rely on fossil fuels to keep pace with rising power demand.






U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres, described the report’s findings as a “code red for humanity,” adding that it “must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels before they destroy our planet.”

Earlier this year, Guterres pushed for all governments, private companies and local authorities to “end the deadly addiction to coal” by scrapping all future global projects. The move to phase out coal from the electricity sector was “the single most important step” to align with the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement, he said.




Yulia Buchneva, director in natural resources at Fitch Ratings, told CNBC that thermal coal remains a key global energy source, noting the commodity still has a more than 35% share in global power generation.

“We expect that the share of coal in energy generation will decline driven by the energy transition agenda, however this will have a rather longer-term impact on the market. In the medium-term demand for coal in emerging markets with less strict environmental agenda, in particular in India, Pakistan, and Vietnam, where coal-fired power dominates generation, is expected to rise,” Buchneva said.

By comparison, Buchneva said that since the U.S. and EU account for only 10% of worldwide demand for coal, an expected contraction in these regions would have a limited impact on the global market.









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