Coal’s Share of Energy Use Rises as Natural Gas Falls

The law of unintended consequences strikes again:

Coal’s share of global energy consumption rose last year to its highest level since 1970 as use of natural gas fell the most on record, a tendency that may continue, BP Plc said in a report.

Coal accounted for 29 percent of world energy use, BP said today in its annual Statistical Review of World Energy. The report measures consumption of oil, gas, coal, nuclear energy and hydroelectricity. Global consumption dropped 1.3 percent in 2009 to 11.16 billion metric tons of oil equivalent, the first decline since 1982, BP said.

While use of coal dropped last year, oil and natural gas consumption dropped more, meaning coal’s share of overall energy consumption rose. Coal consumption fell 0.2 percent to 3.28 billion metric tons of oil equivalent while gas declined 2.4 percent to 2.65 billion tons.

As we all know, coal burns much dirtier than oil and natural gas. We should be encouraging oil and natural gas production, in addition to nuclear, instead of discouraging them. Not only would there tremendous economic and geo-political benefits from increased oil and natural gas production and the resulting lower prices, it would actually produce less pollution than the coal energy it would replace.

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