With consumption, travel and commuting all suppressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers from the Global Carbon Project calculate carbon dioxide emissions fell a record 7% in 2020. One key driver was lower demand for fossil fuels, including coal, the consumption of which is expected to fall by 8% this year — the largest drop since the end of World War II. For many in Indonesia’s government, this is no reason to celebrate. Coal is the country’s largest export, and the pandemic has severely impacted Indonesia’s coal industry. The country, which in 2019 was the world’s biggest thermal coal exporter, has seen demand drop in key export markets including China and India. Domestic consumption is also at risk, as electricity demand from coal-fired power plants drops, exacerbating existing concerns around overcapacity. The Indonesian government’s solution? Support the coal industry, in part by building local demand through a new technology: coal gasification, turning solid coal into the liquid fuels methanol and dimethyl ether (DME) that can replace imported liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). “The Indonesian coal industry is trying to secure their market domestically,” said Andri Prasetiyo, program manager with Trend Asia, a Jakarta-based NGO. “The coal gasification conversation is coming up because global coal demand is decreasing.” Coal industry advocates and proponents in the Indonesian government say gasification plans will benefit the economy by enabling the use of more domestic energy, preserving jobs and investment in the coal industry. However, critics have raised concerns about the environmental and climate impacts of…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer