The future of coal

It fired up the industrial age but is now condemned as a toxic pollutant. Most countries are cutting back on coal usage, but not all. Donald Trump wants to buck the trend and create jobs for miners, and Asia’s appetite for the black stuff continues to grow. Siân Bradley asks if there is a future for old King Coal

The World Today Published 3 August 2018 Updated 10 November 2020 5 minute READ

Siân Bradley

Former Senior Research Fellow, Environment and Society Programme

Over past centuries, coal has helped power economic development and lifted billions of people out of poverty. Coal’s role has accelerated since 2000, with global consumption increasing by almost two-thirds, driven by its rising use in China and India. The global coal trade doubled to 1.5 billion tonnes a year over the same period. With a rapidly expanding supply from Australia and Indonesia meeting this demand, as well that of other major importers including Japan and South Korea, the global coal landscape was effectively redrawn.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.