Coal Exported In 2020 By Australia, Indonesia Produced More Than India’s Annual Emissions

Ember published a new interactive Coal Shipping Dashboard with new data on shipped coal exports in 2020. It is named ‘Scope 3’ emissions report. It reveals that coal shipped overseas by Australia & Indonesia was responsible for a tenth of global annual energy-related CO2emissions in 2020. Coal exported in 2020 had the potential to produce 3.1 billion tonnes of CO2emissions, which is more than India’s annual emissions.

The largest exporters, Australia and Indonesia, would see their domestic emissions more than double if these ‘Scope 3’ emissions from seaborne coal were included.

“While profits flow to coal exporting countries, the environmental impact is shipped overseas,”said Ember’s analyst Nicolas Fulghum. “They conveniently ignore their ‘Scope 3’ emissions despite their significant contribution to the world’s CO2 emissions.”

Key Findings

a) Emissions from seaborne coal exports make up 10% of global annual energy-related CO2 emissions in 2020. Energy related CO2 emissions in 2020 were at 31.5 billion tonnes. At 3.1 billion tonnes of CO2, scope 3 emissions from seaborne coal exports were responsible for 10% of those emissions.

b) The largest exporters of seaborne coal are Indonesia, Australia, Russia, and the United States.Indonesia and Australia alone are responsible for 59% of global seaborne coal trade at 370 megatonnes each in 2020. Only 2% of exports came from countries outside the top 10exporters.

c) Among the big exporters, Australia and Indonesia’s scope 3 emissions from coal exports are significantly higher than their total domestic emissions. At 0.9 billion tonnes of CO2 each, Indonesia’s and Australia’s scope 3 emissions from seaborne coal are 1.5 and 2 times larger than their domestic emissions.

d) As Europe’s coal demand starts to fall, some of its biggest coal trading partners are looking to Asia, but net zero pledges and growing domestic production could turn coal into a stranded asset. As the pandemic put a dent in global coal demand, Colombia’s exports declined by 30% in 2020 over 2019. Exports from Colombia and others to Europe have been in decline even before the pandemic. This trend is set to continue as more European governments are preparing to phase-out coal.

“Despite its significant contribution to the world’s CO2 emissions, the coal export sector and coal exporters have largely avoided scrutiny and responsibility,” continued Ember’s analyst Nicolas Fulghum. “Despite net zero announcements from coal consuming countries, growing scrutiny of coal generation and higher carbon prices, there have so far been few binding agreements to address the supply side of the global coal industry.”

Indonesia and Australia dominate the global coal market accounting for more than half of global seaborne coal exports in 2020. In 2020, global seaborne coal exports amounted to an estimated 1.25 billion tonnes. Indonesia andAustralia account for 59% of these exports at 370 million tonnes each. In fact, only 2% of exports came from countries outside of the top 10 exporters.The import market is more evenly distributed across a range of countries, with the biggest three importers, China, India and Japan, making up 53% of imports.

Dr.Seema Javed is an Environmentalist, Independent Journalist & Strategic Communicator for Climate Change

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