An Untenable Situation
Coal could supplant crude-oil as primary energy within 2 or 3 years. The main reason for this: coal is an abundant and quite inexpensive energy resource which appears to be relatively insensitive to geopolitical considerations. But unfortunately it is currently the most polluting fossil fuel. Coal demand will grow at an average rate of 2.3% per year through 2018. India is increasing consumption and should rival China as the top importer in the next five years. These figures and comments are drawn from the IEA (International Energy Agency) report 2013 about "The Medium-Term Coal Market". It is worth noting that coal is the leading fuel source behind the growth of OECD non-members but also the leading source of power generation in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. Maria Van der Hoeven, Executive director of the IEA, strongly emphasised that "without mitigating the pollution effects of coal, pursuing business as usual will have enormous and tragic consequences". She pointed out that more than three-fifths of the rise in global CO2 emissions since 2000 was due to the burning of coal to produce electricity and heat. And despite public policies to encourage the construction of highly efficient coal power plants, the long term increase in global temperatures could reach 4 degrees Celsius. She added that such an increase "would lead to a devastating and costly change in climate". These developments will have far-reaching consequences on the future of our planet. But clearly, today there is no real political will at an international level to radically change the energy policies. This is obviously a big mistake !