Nary in a Coal Mine
Phasing out coal to clean up our air and slow the onset of climate change is possible on a global scale, according to a new report by the Worldwatch Institute. Coal’s share of world energy peaked at 62 percent in 1910 and is now at 23 percent, following a drop of 2.1 percent in 1998. Since 1984, China has cut its coal subsidies by more than half, and Belgium, France, Japan, Spain, and the U.K. have abolished or reduced their subsidies and together halved their coal use. Still, industrialized countries on the whole give $30 billion annually in subsidies for coal, the former Eastern European bloc gives $27 billion, and China and India combined give $6 billion. And coal still provides the bulk of energy for a number of countries, including South Africa (78 percent), China (73 percent), and the U.S. (53 percent).