What You Need To Know About The Crisis That’s Burying Coal For Good


For not being magnetic, coal is exceptionally polarizing.

Some people seem to be tractor-beamed directly into the alluring power of this combustible rock, while others are repelled from it. Depending on your occupation, location and environmental disposition, coal can either be a trusty resource to exploit for the progress of humankind, or a dark, deadly substance that should be eschewed at all costs. Coal is a lump: a lump sum, or a lump in your stocking.

This prevalent organic rock — composed mainly of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen — fueled the entire Industrial Revolution, and to this day it remains a key element of manufacturing and energy production. But the further we progress into the 21st century, the more it seems like coal’s heyday has passed.

At the end of December, the International Energy Agency released a report showing that after a decade of aggressive growth, global coal demand stalled in 2015. Why did this happen? And why is the agency sharply lowering its five-year global coal demand forecast?

China is responsible for half the world’s coal consumption.

One word: China. The rising Asian superpower is responsible for half the world’s coal consumption.

According to the report, coal demand in China is suffering due to the Chinese economy’s shift towards the service industry and other less energy-intensive industries. Beyond this shift, Chinese cities have been crippled by air pollution from coal-fired power plants and other manufacturing in recent years, and the government is looking for ways to transition rapidly to more renewable forms of energy. In December, China announced that it was closing some 1,000 coal mines to address air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

But China’s modernization is not the only factor keeping coal underground. According to IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, environmental policies worldwide, such as —> Read More