Policy & Politics
05 Apr 2013:
South Africa Game Reserve
Poisons Rhino Horns to Halt Poachers
Officials at a private game reserve in South Africa say they have injected into the horns of more than 100 rhinos a parasiticide that will make humans sick if they ingest the horns
. As the rhinos’ death toll continues to escalate in South Africa
, where nearly 700 animals were
Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images
Injured rhino in South Africa
poached last year to supply a growing black market for their horns, officials say bold action was necessary. “Despite all the interventions by police, the body count has continued to climb,” Andrew Parker, chief executive of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin Association, a group of private landowners, told the Guardian
. “Everything we’ve tried has not been working and for poachers it has become a low-risk, high-reward ratio.” The group is trying to increase that risk by injecting a mix of parasiticides and pink dye into the horns of tranquilized rhinos. The poison is not lethal to humans, Parker said, but anyone who consumes it will be extremely ill. Demand for rhino horns in Southeast Asia
, where the horns are believed to have healing powers, has triggered a surge in the killing of rhinos.
04 Apr 2013:
U.S. Company Shelves Solar
Thermal Plant as Utility Cancels Contract
U.S.-based BrightSource Energy has shelved its second major solar thermal project this year as the company and Pacific Gas and Electric terminated the utility’s contract to buy power generated by the plant in south-central California. In an email, a BrightSource spokesman said the $2.9 billion Hidden Hills project, which would have been built in Inyo County near the Nevada border, was suspended due to “uncertainty around the timing of transmission upgrades,” Bloomberg News reports
, although regulators' environmental concerns also seemed to play a role. Like another project canceled by BrightSource earlier this year, the 500-megawatt Hidden Hills
plant would have utilized thousands of mirrors reflecting sunlight onto central towers to produce steam. The California Energy Commission, which was reviewing the project, found last year that the solar installation would have “significant” environmental impacts
, suggesting that the use of photovoltaic solar panels would be “environmentally superior.” Officials at BrightSource, which recently completed a solar thermal plant in the Mojave desert, disputed that analysis.
28 Mar 2013:
California City to Require
Solar Energy Systems on All New Homes
A city in southern California this week passed a zoning regulation that requires developers to install solar power systems on every new house they build
. Beginning next year, all new homes built on lots at least
7,000 square feet in size in Lancaster, Calif. will be required to produce at least one kilowatt of solar electricity. Developers also have the option of purchasing solar energy credits from other developments within the city limits. The new zoning rules are the latest initiative
in Mayor Rex Parris’s quest to make Lancaster, which has a population of 150,000 and abundant sunshine, the “solar capital of the universe.” Since 2008, the city has also introduced an initiative to attract utility-scale solar developers to the city, proposed a transmission project to deliver solar-generated power to other communities, and created a solar financing program for homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits.
26 Mar 2013:
China’s Utility Giants
Vulnerable to Water Scarcity, Report Says
China’s five largest power utilities, which depend on water-intensive, coal-fired stations to generate electricity, are vulnerable to water supply disruptions because they are centered in the country’s water-scarce northern regions, a new report says. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance
, the five power generators — Huaneng, Datang, Huadian, Guodian, and China Power Investment — operate hundreds of gigawatts of thermal plants in the industrial northeast, where water resources are increasingly strained. Eighty-five percent of China’s power-generating capacity is in water scarce regions, said Maxime Serrano Bardisa, one of the report’s coauthors. The report said that major technical and policy shifts will be required to avert serious disruptions, including the addition of systems that use less water, such as closed-cycle or air-cooled systems. Such improvements could cost the utilities $20 billion in retrofit costs, the report said.
22 Mar 2013:
Expansion of Chinese City Poses
Environmental and Safety Risks, Critics Say
An ambitious plan to expand the western Chinese city of Lanzhou into a regional industrial hub is raising concerns over what critics call lax government oversight of the environmental and safety impacts, including worries that it will siphon huge amounts of water from an already parched region
and devastate nearby mountains. Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province, is a city of 3.6 million and a gateway to Tibet and the Xinjiang region. It is known as one of the most polluted cities in China, and now the government is working to expand the city’s footprint by at least 70 percent, according to Caixin Online
. That expansion involves the flattening of mountaintops, and the additional 1 million people and increased industrial activity will draw water from the already polluted and over-stressed Yellow River. Opponents of the plan say buildings will also be constructed on loose soil that will be vulnerable to collapse. “It was a rash decision to begin construction on the new city before receiving environmental approvals or seeking opinions from the Lanzhou public,” said Zhao Zhong, a local activist.
20 Mar 2013:
High-Speed Trains Provide
Environmental, Social Benefits, Study Says
Bullet trains fuel real-estate booms, improve quality of life, reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, and provide a “safety valve” for crowded cities, especially in the developing world, according to a study by Chinese and U.S. economists. The study was based on China’s rapidly expanding high-speed rail network, but the researchers said the benefits experienced there would be similar for California’s proposed high-speed rail system
. Bullet train systems connecting China’s largest cities to nearby smaller cities have made these “second tier” cities more attractive for workers and alleviated traffic congestion and pollution in megacities, according to the study, carried out by economists at Tsinghua University and the University of California, Los Angeles. The study found that the trains created a new category of exurbs within 60 to 470 miles of urban centers such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, helping keep people from moving to already crowded megacities. The study was published in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
18 Mar 2013:
New Chinese Premier
Vows To Tackle Pollution With ‘Iron Fist’
China’s new premier, Li Keqiang, has vowed aggressive government action
to curb the rampant pollution that has provoked growing public outrage, saying the country would phase out “backward production
Smog covers Beijing in January
facilities” that have contributed to dangerous health conditions in numerous regions. Speaking at his first press conference, Li said the government would set deadlines to address the public health controversy, exemplified by choking air pollution over Beijing that has kept air quality at dangerous levels
since the beginning of the year. Chronic air pollution problems in major metropolitan areas, coupled with a recent episode in which more than 12,000 rotting pig carcasses
were discovered in a river that provides Shanghai’s drinking water, have triggered growing public protest. While Li offered few specific solutions, he promised “vigorous” efforts to tackle pollution. “We need to face the situation and punish offenders with no mercy and enforce the law with an iron fist,” he said. “We shouldn’t pursue economic growth at the expense of the environment.”
15 Mar 2013:
Obama Unveils New Actions
To Combat Climate Change in Second Term
Making good on his promise to fight climate change more aggressively in his second term, President Obama is unveiling two major initiatives to reduce the U.S.’s reliance on fossil fuels, including a new $2 billion Energy Security Trust to fund the next generation of green vehicles, as well as new reviews of federal projects to assess their climate impacts. During an appearance at Argonne National Laboratory, Obama unveiled details of the proposed energy trust, which would shift $2 billion in royalties from oil and gas operations on federal lands
into research into vehicles powered by renewable energy sources. An administration official said the policy will keep the U.S. at the forefront of the emerging green technology sector and will help the nation wean itself off fossil fuels. Obama is also expected to expand a Nixon-era law to require federal agencies to assess the climate effects of large projects
, including pipelines and highways.
14 Mar 2013:
U.S. Grants Will Promote
Small-Scale, Modular Nuclear Reactors
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) this week announced a new series of cost-sharing grants to promote the development of small-scale, factory-made nuclear reactors
, an emerging energy source that Obama administration officials say could help replace the coal-fired plants expected to cease operations in the coming decades. The administration, which has allocated $452 million for the program, hopes to spur the production and licensing of as many as 50 so-called modular reactors annually by 2040, said Rebecca Smith-Kevern, director of light water reactor technology at the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy. DOE officials say these modular reactors, which would be about one-third the size of typical nuclear power plants, also include scalable designs that will provide safety and economic benefits
. “We have a vision of having a whole fleet of [modular reactors] produced in factories,” Smith-Kavern said at a conference. “We envision the U.S. government to be the first users.” Citing a 2011 paper
, she said plants could cost $3 billion to $5 billion apiece.
Interview: An Advocate for
Environmental Justice at EPA
Matthew Tejada brings on-the-ground experience to his new job as director of the Office of Environmental Justice at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Tejada, 33, took over his EPA post
this month after leading Air Alliance Houston, where he helped organize communities along the Texas Gulf Coast to fight air pollution from chemical plants, oil refineries, and the shipping industry. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Tejada explains how he sees his role at the EPA as an advocate for environmental justice, a concept that first emerged in the 1980s and focuses on the pollution burdens often placed on poor and minority neighborhoods. Tejada tells e360
why he thinks his work as a community advocate will help in his new job, why it is important for environmental organizations to build coalitions with grassroots groups, and how he sees “similarities across environmental justice communities, whether they’re in Puerto Rico or in Kansas.” Read the interview
12 Mar 2013:
Mass Scale of Renewables Shift
Is Evident in Blueprint for New York State
A new study concludes that it would be technically and economically feasible for New York State to meet all of its energy needs from renewable sources
by 2030, but
researchers say the transition would involve building wind, solar, and other alternative energy sources on a mass scale. Writing in the journal Energy Policy
, a team of researchers said that to wean itself from fossil fuels for electricity production and transportation, the state would need to build more than 4,000 onshore wind turbines, 12,700 offshore turbines, 828 photovoltaic plants, 5 million rooftop solar systems, and 2,600 one-megawatt tidal turbines. If implemented, New York would meet 40 percent of its energy needs with wind power and 38 percent from solar, the study said. While this dramatic conversion would require initial capital expenses, the study predicts that the long-term health benefits and new jobs would more than make up for those costs. The transition would also reduce end-use power demand by 37 percent, prevent 4,000 premature deaths annually, and save $33 billion in health costs each year, the researchers said.
06 Mar 2013:
Atmospheric CO2 Concentration
Shows Second-Largest Annual Increase
The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased by 2.67 parts per million in 2012
, marking the second-biggest jump since levels were first recorded in 1959 and decreasing the chances that the planet will
avoid a dangerous temperature increase of 3.6 degrees F (2 C) or higher, U.S. scientists say. The new data, collected in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, suggests that levels of heat-trapping CO2 are now just under 395 parts per million (ppm) and could hit 400 ppm within two years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The one-year increase was second only to 1998, when CO2 concentrations jumped by 2.84 parts per million; pre-industrial atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were 280 ppm. Pieter Tans, a senior scientist at NOAA's Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory, attributed the latest spike to an increase in fossil fuel burning globally, particularly in China. “It’s just a testament to human influence being dominant,” he told the Associated Press.
05 Mar 2013:
African Forest Elephant
Populations Fell 62 Percent in a Decade
Populations of forest elephants in central Africa plummeted by more than 60 percent from 2002 to 2011
, with dwindling habitat and an acceleration in poaching driving the elephants toward extinction, according to a
new study. An international team of 60 scientists found that while elephants historically ranged across a 772,000-square-mile region in Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and the Republic of Congo, they now exist in just 25 percent of that area, said John Hart, scientific director for the Lukuru Foundation and co-author of the study published in the journal PLoS ONE
. The decade-long survey, which involved the work of many local conservation staff members who walked more than 8,000 miles conducting censuses, is the largest ever conducted on forest elephants. According to the survey, the remaining 100,000 forest elephants are increasingly scarce in regions with high human populations, heavy poaching, and weak governance.
04 Mar 2013:
U.S. Educational Standards
To Urge Teaching About Climate Change
A new set of U.S. educational standards that is expected to be released this month will recommend that global warming be included in the science curriculum for all U.S. public schools. The Next Generation Science Standards
, which are being developed by a coalition that includes the National Research Council and 26 individual U.S. states, will recommend that teachers introduce evidence of human-caused climate change in all science classes, beginning in elementary school, according to Inside Climate News
. According to the standards, by eighth grade all students should understand that “human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature.” With an additional 15 states indicating that they will also adopt the standards, the report says, the U.S.’s biggest educational publishing companies are already expected to incorporate the new standards into their textbooks and other teaching materials.
27 Feb 2013:
Oxfam Ranks Food Giants on
Sourcing and Environmental Policies
The group Oxfam has published an online scorecard assessing the agricultural sourcing of the world’s biggest food and beverage companies, rating them on factors that include water resource management, climate
awareness, and transparency. Using publicly available information, the “Behind the Brands
” campaign rates the 10 companies with the largest overall revenues — including Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars, and General Mills — on their awareness and responsiveness to these issues and supply chain management. According to Oxfam's analysis, Europe-based companies Nestlé and Unilever earned the highest scores overall, receiving good marks for water management and workers’ rights. Seven of the 10 companies received the lowest possible score for land management
. Associated British Foods, Kellogg’s, and General Mills received the lowest overall scores. Oxfam says the scoreboard will be updated regularly.
19 Feb 2013:
New Global Standard Aims
To Reduce Water Waste by Businesses
The UK-based Carbon Trust has introduced what it calls the first global standard on water management and reduction
in hopes of encouraging more sustainable water use by businesses. The new standard, created by members of the group along with four early-adopting companies, including Coca-Cola Enterprises, will require businesses to show that they are measuring their water use and reducing consumption on a year-to-year basis, Carbon Trust executive Tom Delay told BBC News
. “We look at the various water supply methods: mains, surface water abstraction, groundwater, and rainwater collection,” he said. The Carbon Trust, which already helps business and governments reduce energy use and carbon emissions, decided to expand into water issues since freshwater scarcity is closely linked with climate change. According to a 2009 report
, global freshwater demand will outpace currently available supplies by 40 percent by 2030. In a survey of 475 companies in the U.S., UK, China, and Brazil, the Carbon Trust found that just one out of seven businesses have set targets for water reduction and report their performances publicly.
Why I Came to Washington to
Protest the Keystone Pipeline
By Rick Bass
It’s not exactly as if hell has frozen over, for me, an oil and gas geologist to be protesting — maybe even beyond the extent allowable by law — the folly of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. I’ve hugged a tree or two before, written some letters opposing this or that dam, mine, clear-cut, or whatnot. I’ve lived the last 26 years in the backwoods of northwest Montana, writing pretty little stories, poems and essays about the million-acre garden of the Yaak Valley, a lush wild rainforest of a place, in which I’ve pleaded, argued, scolded for its protection. Read more
14 Feb 2013:
Two New Polls Show Strong
Support for Obama Action on Climate
Roughly two-thirds of the American people support President Obama taking significant action on climate change
, according to two polls released the day after Obama’s State of the Union address. A poll for the League of Conservation voters showed that 65 percent of Americans want Obama to take “significant steps”
to address climate change, including 89 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of Independents, and 38 percent of Republicans. The survey said that most Americans view climate change as a tangible threat, with 61 percent saying climate change is already affecting them or will affect them sometime in their lives. A second poll, conducted for the Natural Resources Defense Council, found that 65 percent of Americans see climate change as a serious problem and that 62 percent agreed with Obama’s call for action. Obama told Congress that if it does not pass legislation to reduce CO2 emission, he will step up efforts to deal with the problem using executive actions. Despite these poll results, another recent survey showed that Americans rank climate change last on a list of 21 problems facing the U.S.
Interview: A Conservative Who
Believes Climate Change is Real
Republican Congressman Bob Inglis lost his 2010 re-election bid after telling a campaign audience he believed in human-caused climate change.
Since then, he has served as executive director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, which seeks to convince conservatives that climate change is real and that free enterprise principles hold the keys for dealing with it. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Inglis talks about his own evolution from being a climate change denier; why he favors a carbon tax and the end of all fuel subsidies; why conservatives have been so reluctant to acknowledge that climate change is real; and why his group is focusing its efforts on college Republicans. “We’re trying to convince conservatives that they are more important to this than they ever imagined,” he says, “because they have the answer, which is free enterprise. And it’s a better answer than a regulatory regime.” Read the interview
06 Feb 2013:
More than 11,000 Elephants
Killed In Gabon Park Since 2004, Study Says
Poachers have slaughtered more than 11,000 elephants in Gabon’s Minkebe National Park
rainforest since 2004, according to a new study by Gabon’s government and two leading conservation groups. The study said that in the past 9 years, two-thirds of the forest elephants in Minkebe — about 11,100 animals — have been killed by poachers for their tusks. The study comes as tens of thousands of African elephants are being killed annually
to feed a growing demand for ivory jewelry and ornamental items in a fast-growing Asian economy. Gabon said that many of the poachers are infiltrating Minkebe park from Cameroon and that the forest elephants’ harder and straighter tusks are coveted by poachers and dealers.
Orphaned Siberian Tiger Cubs
Are Readied for New Life in Wild
Last November, three Siberian tiger cubs were orphaned in the sparsely populated taiga of the Russian Far East, their mother apparently a victim of poachers.
A call from local villagers to Russian wildlife officials set in motion a rescue mission that continues to this day, as Russian and U.S. scientists prepare the tigers for eventual release back into the wild. One of those scientists is Dale Miquelle, who directs the Russia program of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society. He helped capture one of the cubs and is now working with Russian experts on readying the six-month-old tigers for life in the wild at a rehabilitation facility. As Miquelle explains in this report from the field
, saving every Siberian tiger is vital, as fewer than 500 survive in the wild. Read more
29 Jan 2013:
Continued Beijing Air Pollution
Triggers Online Call for Clean Air Act
As Beijing residents continue to endure choking air pollution that far exceeds safe levels, an online poll has found overwhelming support for new clean air legislation
. Ten hours after real estate mogul Pan Shiyi
posted the poll on the popular social media platform Sina Weibo, 99 percent of respondents (more than 32,000 people) agreed that the government should enact a Clean Air Act, with many users offering specific measures to curb pollution, including car-free days, stricter auto emissions standards, and public health protections. The dangerous cloud of pollution that has hung over Beijing for about a month now covers roughly 1.3 million square kilometers, according to the government-run Xinhua news agency. In Beijing this week, visibility fell to 500 meters, and some city natives called it the “worst fog ever,” according to China Daily
Interview: Charting a New Course
For America and the Environment
magazine once called him the “ultimate insider,” and indeed Gus Speth has had a long career as an establishment environmentalist. And so it might be
surprising that his latest book, America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy
, offers a bleak picture of what U.S. environmentalism has accomplished and calls for an overhaul of the nation’s political economy. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Speth, now a professor at Vermont Law School, discusses the evolution of his own thinking on how to address environmental problems and his frustration with continued inaction on climate change. He also talks about the links he sees between economic fairness and environmental health; why he is encouraged by new movements and lifestyles emerging in local communities; and why he rejects what he calls America’s “growth fetish.” “The first thing about growth is it doesn’t deliver,” Speth says, “and it detracts us and deflects us from investing in the things that really do need to grow — like jobs, like education, like green energy technology.” Read the interview
22 Jan 2013:
Obama Emphasizes Climate
Fight In Second Inaugural Speech
In his second inaugural address, President Obama prominently cited the need to tackle climate change, a vow Democrats say the president will carry out using his executive powers
to bypass Congress. After barely addressing the issue during his reelection campaign, Obama on Monday indicated that climate would be a priority in his second term, saying that failure to address the threat of a changing climate “would betray our children and future generations.” “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science,” Obama said. “But none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.” According to a New York Times
report, the president’s new climate strategy will include tougher Environmental Protection Agency rules on emissions from coal plants, as well as stricter energy standards for home appliances and buildings.
11 Jan 2013:
California Solar Rebate
Program Reaches 1-Gigawatt Milestone
California homeowners and businesses, taking advantage of a state rebate program that encourages the installation of solar panels, are now generating 1 gigawatt — or 1,000 megawatts — of electricity, roughly the equivalent of a nuclear power plant, state regulators say. Launched in 2007, the $2.4 billion California Solar Initiative
has offered rebates as high as $2.50 per watt to businesses and homeowners who installed solar panels, with a target of generating 1,940 megawatts by the end of 2016. According to state data, the program so far has encouraged the installation of 1,066 megawatts, more solar capacity than any other state and more than most countries. While the state incentive has fallen by as much 92 percent since the program was introduced, the number of applications continues to increase as the price of solar power installations falls, the San Francisco Chronicle reports
. When the program started six years ago, residential solar systems cost about $9.76 per watt; they now cost about $6.19 per watt.
09 Jan 2013:
U.S. Heat Record Was
Shattered in 2012, NOAA Reports
Last year was by far the warmest year in U.S. history, with the average temperature in the contiguous states climbing a full degree higher than the previous high and
every state recording above-average annual temperatures, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In its annual State of the Climate Report, NOAA said the average temperature during the year was 55.3 degrees F, about 3.2 degrees warmer than the 20th century average and 1 degree warmer than the previous high, recorded in 1998. While the record annual numbers were driven largely by a historically warm spring, the U.S. also experienced its second-warmest summer on record, its fourth-warmest winter, and a fall that was also warmer than average, according to NOAA.
Interview: Perils and Rewards
Of Protecting Congo’s Gorillas
It is difficult to imagine a more dangerous place to be a conservationist than the Democratic Republic of Congo, which for decades has been ravaged by war and civil
Virunga National Park/gorillacd.org
Emmanuel de Merode
strife that has left several million people dead. But it is against this backdrop that Emmanuel de Merode has waged a five-year struggle to protect Congo’s Virunga National Park, the oldest national park in Africa and home to one of the last sizeable populations of mountain gorillas. De Merode is the chief warden of Virunga, a UNESCO World Heritage site that encompasses nearly 2 million acres of forests, mountains, savannahs, and iconic wildlife. Since 1996, more than 150 Virunga park rangers have been killed in the line of duty, with two murdered last October. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, de Merode discusses the challenges of protecting the mountain gorillas in a war-torn nation, the remarkable survival of the gorillas amid this strife, and how restoring order inside Virunga National Park could play a role in bringing peace to Congo.
Read the interview
02 Jan 2013:
U.S. Wind Tax Credit
Extended in ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Compromise
The last-minute tax deal brokered by U.S. lawmakers to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” included a one-year extension of the wind energy tax credit, a subsidy that industry officials say is critical for the growth of the wind energy sector. The bill, which now awaits President Obama’s signature, preserves the 2.2-cents-per-kilowatt-hour credit for all wind energy projects that begin construction in 2013
, allowing projects that are not completed until 2014 to qualify, as well. While the wind energy sector achieved record growth in 2012 — accounting for 44 percent of all new electricity generating capacity in the U.S.
— industry leaders say the possible expiration of the tax credit forced some turbine manufacturers to idle factories and lay off workers during the latter half of 2012. The lack of a long-term federal policy has created “a ‘boom-bust’ cycle” in the wind energy sector
for more than a decade, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), a trade organization.
21 Dec 2012:
Changing Oceans May Be Adding
To U.S. Fisheries Decline, Scientists Say
As U.S. fishing regulators weigh stricter catch quotas to allow time for critical species to recover in the waters of New England, scientists say that changing ocean conditions may be a factor in historic fish declines, not just decades of overfishing. Warmer ocean temperatures and changing ecosystems are contributing to declining populations of cod and flounder
in the northeastern U.S., government officials say. In the Gulf of Maine this year, water temperatures were the highest ever recorded, according to the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists say that about half of 36 fish stocks — including cod and flounder — have been shifting northward into deeper, cooler waters for four decades. And while some regulators say the only chance of restoring populations is for tougher quotas on bottom-dwelling “groundfish” species, the New England Fishery Management Council this week delayed a vote on such cuts
after fishermen said the reductions would devastate their industry.
18 Dec 2012:
Coal May Rival Oil As
World’s Top Energy Source by 2017, IEA Says
Coal could rival oil as the world’s largest energy source within five years as consumption continues to climb in most regions of the world, a trend that could have profound effects on the climate, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says
. While coal consumption is expected to decline in the U.S., where it increasingly has been displaced by ample supplies of natural gas, that reduction in U.S. coal burning has helped drive down coal costs globally
. According to the IEA’s annual Medium-Term Coal Market Report
, the world will burn about 1.2 billion more tons of coal annually by 2017 than it does today. The surge in coal consumption will be driven largely by China and India, with China projected to pass the rest of the world in coal demand within five years, and India predicted to pass the U.S. as the world’s second-biggest coal consumer. Without a high carbon tax, the report says, only competition from cleaner natural gas will reduce coal demand.