Coal – when too much is never enough

Richard Heinberg posted an interesting article last week about the possibility of future declines in coal production, and the implications this might have for climate change.

Although it is by far the most abundant fossil fuel resource, our reserves of coal obviously will not last forever, and some estimates suggest that it may be only a decade or two before we start seeing the sort of supply restrictions we are seeing now with oil.

Whether you see this as a good or a bad thing depends on your perspective. Either way the results could be dramatic. Most climate activasts are coming to see coal as the main bad guy in the climate war. Prominent UK environmentalist George Monbiot, for example, recently declared that he “no longer cared” about being anti-nuclear, as the fight against new coal plants was more important. On the other hand, with oil and gas production on the decline and renewables disappointingly slow on the uptake, policy makers in all of the world’s largest economies are likely to see coal as vital to ensuring the lights stay on. Despite the rhetoric, when the policy objectives of energy security and climate change are in conflict, there is no doubt which will triumph.

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