IEA: Coal to eclipse oil as world's main energy source

By the end of the decade, coal will be tied with oil as the world’s number one energy source, the International Energy Agency predicts in a report released this week.

By 2017, global coal use will amount to 4.32 billion tons of oil equivalent (btoe), compared to 4.40 btoe for oil. Though coal’s pace of growth will slow from the boom of the last decade, use of the fossil fuel will grow steadily, fed by enormous demand growth in China and India.

“In fact, the world will burn around 1.2 billion more tonnes of coal per year by 2017 compared to today—equivalent to the current coal consumption of Russia and the United States combined,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in a statement.

In the absence of a high price on carbon emissions or cheap natural gas around the world, coal use is projected to increase unabated, risking climate policy backlash if carbon capture and sequestration technologies do not mature faster, van der Hoeven said.

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