Currently, coal provides more than 35% of the world’s electricity. It was largely responsible for the Industrial revolution and allowed us to generate electricity and mass-produce commodities; In addition, it provided fuel for transport. However, coal is also responsible for a significant percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions. Burning coal produces more than 700 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year in the United States alone. Using coal as an energy source is also associated with environmental impacts such as acid rain, smog, ground-level ozone and particulate emissions.
Speaking at the Bonn Climate Conference, U.S. Envoy on climate change John Kerry said the world is “cooked” if it continues using coal in response to the Russia-Ukraine war. Kerry criticized several countries during an interview with the BBC for failing to keep the promises they made during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
As countries continue to deal with the reverberating effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine across the energy sector coupled with a rise in the cost of living, the unity they displayed last year in Glasgow will be put to the test.
Despite all these geopolitical factors, Kerry said, the world still isn’t moving speedily enough to arrest the carbon emissions that are driving runaway climate change. He added that while reducing global carbon emissions is a battle we can win, it will require a “wholesale elevation of effort” by countries around the world.
Ukrainian scientist Dr. Svitana Krakovska also encouraged the delegates to hasten the transition from fossil fuels to green energy, stating that oil and gas were the “enablers of war.”
The delegates may not be able to achieve much, however, as they are mostly civil servants with little political input. Furthermore, an analysis by BBC shows that member states haven’t done a lot to remedy the issues discussed in the Glasgow Climate Pact. This is partly because the November conference was swiftly followed by a sharp increase in gas prices that triggered an energy crisis. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns messed up the global supply chain while the Russia-Ukraine war only compounded the energy crisis. Countries such as Egypt, which hosted COP27, and India have been slow to submit their new carbon-cutting strategies.
Alex Scott from environmental think tank E3G said the ongoing Bonn talks would be the real test to see whether countries would stand by their word and genuinely commit to making the policy changes needed to significantly decrease carbon emissions.
As those carbon reduction commitments are gradually implemented, coal mining companies such as Alliance Resource Partners LP (NASDAQ: ARLP) will continue helping bridge the energy supply gaps that have resulted in significant spikes in the prices of different forms of energy.
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