The number of coal-fired power plants under development worldwide saw a dramatic drop in 2016, mainly due to shifting policies in Asia, according to a new report released today by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and CoalSwarm. The report is the third annual survey of the global coal plant pipeline. Its findings include a 48% decline in overall pre-construction activity, a 62% drop in new construction starts, and an 85% decline in new Chinese coal plant permits.
Reasons for the rapid fall-off include a dramatic clampdown on new coal plant projects by Chinese central authorities and financial retrenchment by coal plant backers in India. In China and India, construction is now frozen at over 100 project sites.
In addition to the decline in new plant development, the survey also found a record-breaking 64 gigawatts of coal plant retirements in the past two years, mainly in the European Union and the U.S. — the equivalent of nearly 120 large coal-fired units (see note).
According to the report, the combination of a slowed new coal plant pipeline and an increase in outdated coal plant retirements brings the possibility of holding global temperature increase to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels “within feasible reach,” provided countries continue to step up action.