The International Energy Agency (IEA) has provided the data that coal consumption is a major source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Up to now, the evolution of the global coal trade volume still tends towards increasing. However, whether there is a possibility of downward trend in global coal trade competition? This paper offers a comprehensive exploration and discussion of dynamic competitive relationship and intensity among the global coal importing trade from a continuous time series perspective. First, the results indicate that more competitive relationships regarding coal imports are being built, and the coal import competition network (CICN) has been moved from a core periphery structure towards a reticular structure. In addition, global coal trade competitive intensity has continued to rise. Next, we find that the role played by the Asian-Pacific region, led by Japan and China in sequence, in the evolution of this competitive pattern is becoming increasingly prominent. The competitive intensity of European importers has declined since 2007. In contrast, China soared from seventh in 2009 to first in 2016 in terms of coal import competition rank. Finally, based on the results, it is recommended that the policy makers in Asian countries should make out strategies such as adopting environmentally friendly technologies to decrease the CO2 emissions.
Keywords Competitive coal import network Evolution, Network features, Complex network