Running headlong into a global catastrophe:
Cheap, plentiful and the most polluting of fossil fuels, coal remains the single largest source of energy to generate electricity worldwide. This, even as renewables like solar and wind power are rapidly becoming more affordable. Soon, coal could make no financial sense for its backers. So, why is coal so hard to quit?
Because coal is a powerful incumbent. It’s there by the millions of tons under the ground. Powerful companies, backed by powerful governments, often in the form of subsidies, are in a rush to grow their markets before it is too late. Banks still profit from it. Big national electricity grids were designed for it. Coal plants can be a surefire way for politicians to deliver cheap electricity — and retain their own power. In some countries, it has been a glistening source of graft.
I really do hate to throw this on you right after that stunning climate report, but there's no help for it. If we don't understand the scope of the problem, we'll never be able to solve it. Our advocacy here in the United States has been, if not wildly successful, at least a sign of steady progress. Older and dirtier coal plants have been shuttered, and relatively few new ones are coming online. But unfortunately, that is not the case in many other parts of the world: