(2006) - The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports that for the past four years coal use actually grew by 22%, which is the main contributor to the yearly 3% increase in CO2 worldwide. So called short-term economics towards cheap power is driving the increase in coal use. While it’s been labeled as cheap, electricity costs from a coal source is expected to double in price by the year 2030 (to $40-45 a mega-watt hour).
|Lignite (coal) on a conveyor belt|
The increase is mostly driven by use in China, India and Russia (where coal is used for power stations) and in the United States and European Union (looking for fresh supplies of coal). Keith Allot, the head of WWF in the UK says that “coal is an extremely dirty source of power, and imposes huge costs on people’s health, the environment and the economy." He continues further by saying that unless governments agree to clean up coal and support clean alternatives, coal will remain the fuel of choice for countries, especially those in Asia. He does note that those countries cannot single handedly blamed for their use of coal.
The impact on the climate is predicted to be a 37% decline in wheat, rice and corn yields along with a decrease in rainfall (bad for crops) in China. The climate change will result in China falling short of up to 20 billion cubic meters (of water needed for crops) from 2010 to 2030. Water shortage can also be a result of melting glaciers on a plateau, which supplies much of the water for rivers. Other impacts include heat related deaths in India, which has been found to be increased due to coal use.
Alternative energies are said to be just as competitive in price by 2030.
Also visit http://bw.china-embassy.org/eng/xwdt/t366585.htm, to look at the impact coal has on China's crops.