Even as the world promises to bring down the use of fossil fuels and pledge for net – zero carbon emission, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) calculations show that the trade in fossil fuels has increased substantially during the last 20 years.
The UNCTAD says that the world is trading in fossil fuels more than ever when less fossil fuel is needed. It notes that the use of fossil fuels continues unabated despite increased awareness of the risks related to global climate change. UNCTAD calculations are based on data from Our World in Data and the United Nations Comtrade Database.
The trade statistics clearly shows the addiction of the global economy to fossil fuels, a substantial increase during the last 20 years. The calculations point out that the volume of global coal trade since 2000 has increased by more than two and a half time. It even surpassed natural gas and petroleum. While the global trade of fossil fuels declined in 2020 with the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, this decline is likely to be temporary, as was the case in the previous economic downturn of 2008. The UNCTAD states that preliminary data for 2021 already shows a return to historical trends.
It says that coal trade has increased more than the use of renewable sources of energy. This indicates that coal continued to play an important role in providing the energy for the growing global economy. This is mainly because of its abundance, relatively low cost and ease of transport. This is why coal is used in more than one third of global power consumption.
The UNCTAD states that fossil fuels will continue to power the global economy if strong multilateral global commitments like phasing out subsidies, implementing effective carbon price mechanism are not taken.