by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel
Does the rest of the world know something we don’t?
A December report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirms that worldwide use of coal hit an all-time high in 2022, following a huge increase in 2021, and is on track to increase further in 2023. The report was barely mentioned by most of the media. That may be because Americans have already moved beyond coal, culturally and politically. U.S. coal consumption continued to decline, bucking the global trend.
American consumers have become convinced that switching from coal to other sources is good for the environment, because it lowers carbon dioxide emissions. They are not alone in that belief. In fact, the IEA’s own press release decries the environmental impact: “That sharp rise contributed significantly to the largest ever annual increase in global energy-related CO2 emissions… (now) at their highest level in history.”
How can that be, when the U.S. — long the world’s largest energy consumer — has all but abandoned coal? That was a massive cultural and economic shift, considering that coal accounted for two-thirds of all electric generation in the U.S. a couple of decades ago. American policymakers were determined, though, and the “war on coal,” as many called it, was launched with a vengeance.