There's a big bright future ahead for coal and we'll pay dearly for it.
The International Energy Agency warns that, within five years, coal will rival oil as the fossil fuel energy source of choice.
Coal consumption is increasing all over the world – even in countries
and regions with carbon-cutting targets – except the US, where shale
gas has displaced coal, shows new research from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The decline of the fuel in the US has helped to cut prices for coal
globally, which has made it more attractive, even in Europe where coal
use was supposed to be discouraged by the emissions trading scheme.
van der Hoeven, executive director of the IEA, said: "Coal's share of
the global energy mix continues to grow each year, and if no changes are
made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade."
is abundant and found in most regions of the world, unlike conventional
oil and gas, and can be cheaply extracted. As a result, coal was used
to meet nearly half of the rise in demand for energy globally in the
past decade. According to the IEA, demand from China and India will
drive world coal use in the coming five years, with India on course to
overtake the US as the world's second biggest consumer. China is the
biggest coal importer, and Indonesia the biggest exporter, having
temporarily overtaken Australia.
The IEA report comes atop a study in Nature Climate Change that suggests we still have a chance of staying within the 2C target but that would require shutting down 65% of existing coal-fired power plants within the next 10 to 15 years. In November the World Resources Institute reported that no fewer than 1,200 new coal-fired power plants are in planning or under development around the world, two thirds of them in India and China.