While in the United States coal is rapidly being replaced with other fuels, particularly natural gas, globally coal’s share of the world energy market is higher than it has been for the last four decades, reaching 30%. Conversely, the fuel with the largest share of the energy market, oil, has been losing market share and now accounts for 33% of the market, the lowest since 1965. Since burning coal produces about double the greenhouse gas emissions as burning oil, these statistics, which come from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, are another indication that efforts to address climate change globally are going nowhere. Not only is the burning of coal for energy increasing in China and India, as would be suspected, but surprisingly coal burning has also been increasing in Europe.
Perhaps the most important thing for Americans to take away from this is that when hearing hear about the declining use of coal in the US is to realize that the US is the exception not the rule. Rather than being on its last legs, coal use is surging and continues to be the main driver of globing warming.