Global Coal Usage Reaches 44 Year High

Earlier this week, BP issued its annual "Statistical Review of World Energy" report. According to the report, coal was the fastest-growing fossil fuel worldwide last year, and "coal's share of global primary energy consumption reached 30.1 percent, the highest since 1970". Despite a decrease in coal usage by North America and Europe over the past several years (due in large part to cheaper natural gas), global coal consumption has risen to new highs, driven by the growing and power-hungry markets of China and India. And, as might be expected, worldwide carbon emissions grew again last year, by another 2.1 percent. Despite increasing urgency from the scientific community to reduce carbon emissions to head off climate disaster, and the small but growing use of renewable energy sources, coal appears to be the fuel of choice at the moment, and predictions are that its usage will continue to rise. [32 photos total]

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A Ukrainian coal miner waits for a bus after finishing his shift at a coal mine outside Donetsk, Ukraine, on May 20, 2014. While coal consumption has dropped in Europe and North America in recent years, it has risen sharply in Asia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) #
The bucket-wheel of a giant excavator removes the first layer of soil for the expansion of the nearby Welzow open-pit lignite coal mine on August 20, 2010 near Drebkau, Germany. The area of northern Saxony and southern Brandenburg is scarred with active and former mines, and a large-scale project was underway to flood the massive pits and convert them into lakes for tourism. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images) #
Excavators work in an open coal mine near Grevenbroich, Germany, viewed on Google Earth. (copy; Google, Inc.) #
Indian laborers load coal onto trucks at a coal depot on the outskirts of Jammu, India, on August 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) #
Coke emerges from a coke furnace in operation at the Xian Coking Factory which was shut down during a campaign to reduce air pollution in 2007 in Shaanxi Province, China. The factory emits about 300 million cubic meters of exhaust gas every year. (China Photos/Getty Images) #
A worker walks along a railway track at a coking factory in Changzhi, Shanxi province, on August 28, 2009. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A security guard watches from a coal heap during a climate change protest at Ratcliffe Power Station at Ratcliffe-on-Soar, central England, on October 17, 2009. (Reuters/Darren Staples) #
Explosives are detonated at an A & G Coal Corporation surface mining operation in the Appalachian Mountains on April 16, 2012 in Wise County, Virginia. Critics refer to this type of mining as "mountaintop removal mining" which has destroyed 500 mountain peaks and at least 1,200 miles of streams while leading to increased flooding. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) #
Mountaintop removal mining, near Chavies, Kentucky, viewed on Google Earth. (copy; Google, Inc.) #
A miner holds a piece of coal outside an unregulated coal mine in Sabinas, Mexico, on January 15, 2013. Everyday, thousands of miners go to work in the unregulated coals mines of northern Mexico knowing they may not return. Facing death on a daily basis has become a fact of life for these men as they struggle to scrape out a living in an environment bereft of rules and regulations, lacking even the most basic equipment. (Reuters/Daniel Becerril) #
In this photograph taken on January 29, 2013, Indian coal miner Surya Limu (inside hole), squats with other miners by a fire to keep warm hours before dawn, inside the face of a 50 meter deep shaft in Rymbai village in the northeastern state of Meghalaya, India. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
A crane lifts miners out of a 300ft deep mine shaft, as they head out for their lunch break on April 13, 2011 near the village of Latyrke near Lad Rymbai, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India. In the Jaintia hills, located in India's far North East state of Meghalaya, miners descend to great depths on slippery, rickety wooden ladders. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #
22 year old Shyam Rai from Nepal pauses as he works, digging out coal, using hands and a pick to get at the seams of coal that lay 300 ft below the surface at a coal mine on April 13, 2011 in the Jaintia Hills, India. Children and adults squeeze into rat-hole like tunnels in thousands of privately owned and unregulated mines, extracting coal with their hands or primitive tools and no safety equipment. Workers can earn as much as 150 USD per week or 30,000 Rupees per month, significantly higher than the national average of 15 USD per day. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #
38 year old Prabhat Sinha, from Assam, carries a load of coal weighing 60kg, supported by a head-strap, as he ascends the staircase of a coal mine on April 16, 2011 near the village of Khliehriat, India. After traversing treacherous mountain roads, the coal is delivered to neighboring Bangladesh and to Assam from where it is distributed all over India, to be used primarily for power generation and as a source of fuel in cement plants. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #
A miner bends over a wooden crate to empty the basket strapped to his back filled with about 60-70 kilos of wet coal after exiting a deep coal mine shaft near Rimbay village in the Indian northeastern state of Meghalaya. Accidents and quiet burials are commonplace, with years of uncontrolled drilling making the mines unstable and liable to collapse at any moment. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
A train is loaded with coal at the Borodinsky opencast colliery, near the Siberian town of Borodino, some 152 km (94 mi) east of Krasnoyarsk, on November 15, 2012. The Borodinsky colliery is the biggest opencast coal mine in Russia - 7 km (4 miles) long and 100 meters (328 feet) deep - was built from 1945 to 1949 by Gulag prisoners to produce about 20 million tons of coal a year now. (Reuters/Ilya Naymushin) #
Trains transporting coal at the Borodinsky opencast colliery near the Siberian town of Borodino, on September 23, 2009. (Reuters/Ilya Naymushin) #
Thirty-one coal cars sit mangled after derailing and slamming into a house near Baltimore, Ohio, on May 10, 1998. A couple and their dog escaped just moments before the Conrail coal train derailed and slammed into their house, knocking it six feet off its foundation. (Reuters) #
A bucket-wheel excavator removes the first layer of soil for the expansion of the nearby Welzow open-pit lignite coal mine on August 20, 2010 near Drebkau, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images) #
A truck carrying 250 tons of coal hauls the fuel to the surface of the Spring Creek mine near Decker, Montana, headed for customers in Asia, on April 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown) #
Bucket excavators stand illuminated at the snow-covered Vereinigtes Schleenhain open-pit coal mine on January 25, 2013 near Deutzen, Germany. The mine, which is operated by Mibrag, is one of several across eastern Germany that produce lignite coal for local electricity production. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images) #
This aerial photo shows the United Bulk Terminals in Devant, Louisiana, on February 18, 2014. Three environmental groups claim in a federal lawsuit that the coal terminal, south of New Orleans, is polluting the Mississippi River. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) #
View of the Boxberg lignite-fired power station and the Nochten open pit lignite (brown coal) mine (below) taken on January 14, 2011. The plant is run by Swedish energy giant Vattenfall. (John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images) #
Mine operator Dallen McFarland inspects the teeth of a continuous mining machine at the Horizon Coal Mine outside Helper, Utah, on March 28, 2009. (AP Photo/George Frey) #
A coal miner smokes a cigarette after finishing his shift at a coal mine on the outskirts of Changzhi, north China's Shanxi province, on November 7, 2007. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A boy looks out over an open-cast coal mine as the glowing embers of an underground coal fire are seen below in the village of Guhanwadi on February 11, 2012 near Jharia, India. Villagers in India's Eastern State of Jharkhand scavenge coal illegally from open-cast coal mines to earn a few dollars a day. Claiming that decades old underground burning coal seams threatened the homes of villagers, the government relocated over 2,300 families to towns like Belgaria. Villagers claim they were promised schools, hospitals and free utilities for two years, which they did not receive. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #
A donkey carrying sacks of coal walks through the narrow tunnels of a coal mine, in Choa Saidan Shah in Punjab province, Pakistan, on April 29, 2014. Coal miners in Chao Saidan Shah use donkeys to transport coal from the depths of the mines to the surface. The donkeys make around 20 trips per day carrying sacks weighing about 20 kg (44 lbs) each. The work is dangerous with the constant risk of cave-ins. The miners say they do what they can to care for the animals, with their limited resources, but the difficult conditions mean the donkeys' life expectancy is 12-13 years. (Reuters/Sara Farid) #
The coal-fueled Cottam power station generates electricity on November 30, 2009 in Retford, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) #
The Ulyanovskaya mine near Russia's city of Novokuznetsk in the early hours of March 20, 2007. (Reuters/Sergei Gavrilenko) #
A worker moves coal briquettes onto a pedicab at a coal distribution business in Huaibei, central China's Anhui province, on January 30, 2013. Environmental concerns -- particularly over the use of coal -- were pushed to the top of the agenda after much of the country was covered with a blanket of pollution in early 2013. (AFP/Getty Images) #
A laborer searches for usable coal at a cinder dump site on the outskirts of Changzhi, Shanxi province, on October 27, 2009. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A coal miner takes a shower after his shift at a mine on the outskirts of Changzhi, Shanxi province, China, on May 19, 2009. (Reuters/Stringer) #

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