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Report says use of coal grew 3%; most of all fuels

New statistics show that coal has reached its highest market share of global energy consumption in more than 40 years, a leading British newspaper reports.

The Guardian newspaper reports in its U.S. edition that use of coal for power generation and other purposes grew by 3% in 2013 – faster than any other fossil fuel – while its share of the market breached 30% for the first time since 1970, the BP Statistical Review reports.

The Guardian reports that Europe is among the regions using more coal, increasing imports from the U.S., where coal has been displaced in many power plants by even cheaper shale gas. But developing countries such as China and India are also huge coal users, the newspaper says, although BP pointed out that energy growth overall in China dropped to 4.7% last year from 8.4% in 2012.

According to The Guardian, Christof Ruhl, BP’s chief economist and author of its statistical review, said this “dramatic slowdown” put a question mark over China’s official economic growth figure for 2013 of 7.7%.

The accuracy of Chinese economic statistics have long been a subject for debate but few are willing to directly challenge them for fear of upsetting such an important emerging powerhouse, the newspaper said.

“It is not easy to reconcile the slowdown in energy growth numbers and official [gross domestic product] numbers … you can draw your own conclusions from that,” Ruhl told The Guardian.

The BP statistics show that the use of windfarms for generating electricity rose by 21% last year while solar power grew even more rapidly, by 33%, but from a lower base point, the newspaper reported.

The Guardian said the BP report shows that oil, a major carbon polluter which has an important role in transport and in the manufacture of chemicals and plastics, remained the world’s leading fuel, with 33% of global energy consumption. But it lost market share for the 14th consecutive year and 33% is the lowest share since BP started to compile its data in 1965, reporter Terry Maclister wrote in the newspaper’s Sunday edition.

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