During the first four months of 2023, four countries have accounted for more than half of all thermal coal imports and over 70% of global power sector emissions resulting from coal usage.

China, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam collectively represented 53% of global thermal coal imports, compared to 40% during the same period in 2022, as reported by ship tracking firm Kpler.

These same countries contributed to 71.4% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal-based power sector activities between January and April. This figure has increased from approximately 67% recorded during the same period the previous year, according to data from the think tank Ember.

China’s demand for coal has surged in the early months of 2023 due to measures implemented by Beijing to stimulate economic growth. Thermal coal imports in China during the first four months of the year have risen by 90% compared to the same period in 2022.

The increased industrial activity in China has also had a positive impact on the economies of major trading partners, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines, which have strong supply chain connections with China. Consequently, electricity generation in these countries has increased, especially in the Philippines, where coal-fired generation has grown by over 11% in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2022.

India, along with China and key trade partners in Southeast Asia, will be crucial to monitor in terms of coal imports and emissions for the remainder of 2023 and beyond.

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