The Shrinking Geographies of Coal

European Pathways in a Global Context


  • Gilles Lepesant



Coal, Europe, Geographies of coal, China, emission targets


This contribution aims at highlighting trends that are affecting coal’s geography at different levels (world, European and regional ones). To reach the emission targets agreed in the Paris Agreement (2015), coal’s decline looks necessary but it still contributes for almost half of power production. Coal’s geography is however shrinking albeit at a different pace around the world with Asia remaining a key consumer and supplier and European countries being for most of them committed to phase it out. China produces and consumes around 40 percent of the coal extracted while most of the EU Member States have either phased-out coal or have committed to do so. Different EU policy instruments aiming at lowering GHG emissions are affecting cost-effectiveness of coal fired power-plants.