Whether global warming is really occurring or these temperatures are cyclical, it’s best to keep coal use down as it is terrible for the environment. We need to stop arguing about why and stop using coal. It produces more CO2 per unit of energy than other mainstream energy sources, and it is also the main bad guy when it comes to smog and mercury pollution.
Even though many parts of the world have seen slow coal growth, this is offset by Asia, where demand has skyrocketed. Just look at the chart and you get the whole story. In order to keep coal use down, China has to be part of the solution, but are they willing to be? Probably not, as their civilization is exploding with growth and they would have to make far more changes than other countries since so much of their power comes from coal.
It’s quite a conundrum. Global coal demand has nearly doubled since 1980. In Asia, demand is up over 400% from 1980-2010. Demand in China accounted for 73% of Asia’s consumption and almost half of coal consumption globally in 2010.