World Coal meeting is set to discuss the fuel’s future, but science and policymakers may have sealed the polluting fuel’s fate already, says Ed King for RTCC, part of the Guardian Environment Network
On a scale of diplomatic blunders, organising an international coal conference at the same time as a UN climate summit appears to be fairly substantial.
Coal is the most polluting of fossil fuels, which makes the Polish Ministry of Economy’s decision to host the International Coal and Climate conference from November 18-19 appear curious.
Without expensive technologies fixed to power stations, its noxious fumes can choke cities, raise mortality rates, cause acid rain and are heavily linked to climate change. In 2010 it was responsible for 43% of carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion – that’s around 13.1 gigatonnes of the 51 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GTCO2e) released that year.
In short, coal seems to be an enemy to what UN envoys call ‘climate ambition’. But the Polish hosts of the 19th Conference of the Parties to the UN, which starts on Monday 11 November, disagree.