Coal companies were expected to invest in technology to capture and store carbon emissions over the last decade, but didn't — and that's probably hastening the sector's decline, according to the International Energy Agency chief.
"I thought fossil fuel companies, especially coal companies, would make a major push for the [carbon capture technology], just to protect their businesses [and] investment strategy, not because of climate change," IEA executive director Fatih Birol told Axios last week in Washington. "But they didn't do it." The result, he said, is that global coal consumption has declined for two years in a row.
Why it matters: Birol's comments offer a glimpse into how one of the most powerful energy organizations views the coal industry's relative standing in the global fuel mix. While fossil fuels still account for 81% of the world's energy consumption — a statistic that hasn't changed in 30 years — natural gas has eaten into much of coal's market share in the U.S. and is expected to grow globally.
On the other hand: Luke Popovich, spokesman for the National Mining Association, lays the blame at former President Obama's feet, saying the industry had a coalition prepared to fund its share of a carbon capture project called FutureGen 2.0 but federal funding was pulled due to a statutory deadline.
my Harder Line column
this week for more on the latest about clean coal technologies.