Plans for coal power plants down by almost half in 2016

The number of coal-fired power stations in pre-construction stage declined dramatically in 2016, according to a study.

According to the study authors, there was a 48-per cent drop in planned coal units, with a 62-per cent drop in construction starts.

According to the report from a number of green campaign groups, changing policies and economic conditions in China and India were behind the decline.

However, according to the coal industry, the fuel would continue to remain essential to economic growth in Asia for decades to come.

Between 2006 and 2016, India and China together accounted for 85 per cent of the coal plants built around the world.

However, according to the Boom and Bust 2017 report, put together by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and CoalSwarm, there had been a huge swing away from coal in these two countries over the last 12 months.

The study in India questions over finance were threatening coal plants.

while in China the cause of the decline was the imposition of restrictive measures by the country's central government - with the equivalent of 600 coal-fired units being put on hold until at least 2020.

The slowing down in India was due to the reluctance of banks to provide funds, according to the authors. Work at 13 locations was currently suspended.

The latest developments ''appear to have brought global climate goals within feasible reach, raising the prospect that the worst levels of climate change might be avoided,'' said the report.

However, the report acknowledged that the ''the margin for error is tight.''

Sustained progress would  require China and India to scrap over 100 coal plants on which construction had been suspended. The report warned that some countries, including South Korea and Indonesia, were failing to develop renewables, which could increase their need for coal power.