Policy Documents

Coal in the Global Energy Landscape

Nicholas Loris –
December 11, 2013

In this issue brief, Nicholas Loris writes that an abundant, affordable energy resource, coal provides 30 percent of the world’s energy, 41 percent of the world’s electricity generation and factors into 70 percent of the world’s steel production. While coal is by no means the only source of energy developed across the globe, it is a critical resource to driving economic growth all over the world and will continue to be so well into the future. As the U.S. federal government is promulgating and applying regulations to significantly reduce the use of coal, the rest of the world’s use could propel coal to the planet’s number one energy source by 2017, surpassing oil. The purpose of this paper is not to promote one source of energy over another—markets should drive energy production and consumption. Instead, this paper reviews coal use in other parts of the world to highlight how vital it is to current and future economic growth and improved standards of living.