At a time when many governments are discussing carbon offsets, carbon taxes and pushing investments in renewable energy projects, coal prices and demand have surged to record levels across the board. In America, the Biden administration has breathed new life into the coal mining business, while at the same time trying to implement policies that would certainly destroy it. It’s ironic. In nine months, they have accomplished something the Trump administration had promised and failed to do for four years.
In the Dateline Washington column (see p. 14), Conor Bernstein explains in detail the current situation in Europe and how energy-driven inflation should be a wake-up call for everyone. As political figures and climate bureaucrats head to the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, Scotland, several countries are restarting coal-fired power plants in the Balkans.
Climate activists have suggested paying South Africa to move away from coal, and the country’s utility company Eskom put a $30 billion price tag on that strategy. Will someone step forward?
Meanwhile, China and India, the world’s two largest coal consumers are scrambling to find the coal they need to provide electricity and heat. An article from Coal Age’s Kolkata, India-based writer, Ajoy Das, describes how some coal-fired power plants have zero days of coal stocks and others have as much as three days of coal stocks. Meanwhile, winter has arrived early in China, and it’s making a desperate situation worse. A widening power crisis has halted production at numerous factories, and rapidly rising energy costs have sent the Chinese Producer Price Index to its highest level in at least 25 years, rising 10.7% year-on-year in September.
Australian coal operators are moving forward. Even though environmental activists are using different techniques to thwart coal exports, the positive impact on the economy is not lost on the people of Queensland and New South Wales. The situation in Canada, however, is a bit different. The federal government has taken an anti-thermal coal stance, which seems to be at odds with western provinces. There is currently a move afoot to not only block Canadian exports of thermal coal, but U.S. coal exports from Canada as well.
Coal has served as a dependable, low-cost source of power for much of the industrialized world for more than 100 years now. To think that
the world can shift away from it in five to 10 years is naïve. The rapid pace of conversion, which has been imposed upon society based on questionable science, is causing once-reliable networks to fail. The reverberations will be felt throughout the world.