Coal is the world’s most polluting fuel and it could become the world’s biggest source of energy.
Coal is the world’s most polluting fuel and it could become the world’s biggest source of energy. - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

Coal is the world’s most polluting fuel -- and it could become the world’s biggest source of energy.

The International Energy Agency says coal will overtake oil and become the number one fuel within  a decade unless government policies change.

The agency says that economic growth in China and India is driving demand for coal. By 2030 those two countries alone will account for two-thirds of global consumption. This explosive growth, claims the agency, could jeopardize the battle to cut carbon emissions and pose other problems.

Dieter Helm is a professor of energy at Oxford University and author of “The Carbon Crunch.” He says coal is the number one enemy of the environment.

“It’s not just that it produces a lot of carbon emissions," he says. "It produces a lot of other pollutants too. Methane leaks from the coal mines. It pollutes the water tables. It’s pretty hard to think of anything worse than coal."

The IEA says the only hope of stemming coal use is by following the U.S. example and turning to much cleaner natural gas. The agency claims that coal demand will rise in every region except the U.S., where the shale revolution is replacing coal and cutting emissions faster than almost anywhere else.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.