ST. LOUIS, Sept. 26, 2014 / PRNewswire – During a week of heightened discussion about carbon and climate, Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) today called for greater use of advanced coal to fight energy inequality and improve emissions.
“It’s time we recognize energy poverty as the most serious crisis we face and reject climate alarmism that stalls solutions for energy access that would improve health, longevity and quality of life for tens of millions of citizens around the world,” said Peabody Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gregory H. Boyce. “The best way to reduce carbon and further human development is to accelerate deployment of today’s advanced coal technologies that provide continued environmental improvement.”
More than a decade ago, the United Nations developed Millennium Goals calling for a rapid halving of extreme global poverty by 2015. Today 3.5 billion people live without adequate energy access, which represents half the world’s population. Billions in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa spend their days foraging for wood or biomass for fuel to cook meals or heat dwellings.
The smoke from daily indoor fires is devastating, resulting in dire health effects. Household air pollution from indoor fires is estimated to be the fourth-leading cause of death in the world.
“Reasonable people can disagree on the urgency of addressing concerns about carbon, but no one can question the crisis we face when more than 4 million people die annually from indoor air pollution resulting from energy poverty,” said Boyce.
Boyce said the ultimate human suffering from energy poverty extends to vaccines that aren’t kept cold, hospitals that lack proper electricity, food that spoils from lack of refrigeration, water that isn’t purified and the effects of poor sanitation.
“If we are really serious about helping the impoverished, then we should be supporting activities to provide abundant low-cost energy for the billions in the world who lack it. As the world’s policy makers consider long-term energy actions, it is encouraging that more nations are realizing the harm done to people due to poor carbon policies, demonstrating important lessons for today’s U.S. and global leaders.”
Boyce observed that choices of fuels and policies matter as witnessed by actions globally:
- Australia repealed its carbon tax, which the prime minister called a “useless, destructive tax, which damaged jobs, hurt families’ cost of living and didn’t actually help the environment.”
- Japan has stepped up support for coal-fueled power plants both domestically and overseas, calling for greater use of advanced coal technology that reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
- India’s new prime minister pledged to make electricity available to every household by 2022.
- China is deploying technology to reduce emissions and is the world’s largest coal user.
- Canada is reducing emissions without a penalizing carbon tax.
- Europe’s renewable strategy is being pared back as the continent is threatened by Russia’s energy security challenge.
“At a time when the world is bringing on line one new 500 megawatt coal plant every three days, calls to divest from fossil fuels from a tiny fraction of global investors are misguided and anti-poor,” Boyce said. “All investors should be calling for more advanced coal use to alleviate energy poverty and drive major environmental gains.”
Fossil fuels help people live longer and better, and repeated studies demonstrate coal is the backbone of the global economy, with a direct correlation between greater coal use and greater GDP. The benefits of fossil fuel energy to society outweigh the social costs of carbon by a magnitude of 50 to 500 times, according to the study, “The Social Costs of Carbon? No, the Social Benefits of Carbon,” prepared by Management Information Systems.
“We have deep concerns over flawed electricity policies designed to eliminate clean and efficient electricity from coal, which supplies over 40 percent of U.S. power and has increasingly lower emissions,” Boyce said.
“Studies clearly show these policies, if enacted, would only cause price increases with greater reliability risks and no substantive improvement under climate theory. These policies destroy manufacturing jobs, increase energy poverty, hurt real people and ruin hope for a better life.”
Coal is expected to fuel more energy growth than any other fuel over the next 20 years based on the International Energy Agency’s current policy scenario. More than 70 million people are expected to be added to cities each year through 2020 as populations continue to fight poverty by migrating to urban centers. Coal is the least expensive and most reliable major form of electricity generation to meet these rising energy needs. The World Bank also has said coal will be essential in helping Africa meet power demands.
Coal has been the world’s fastest-growing major fuel for more than a decade, and is projected to overtake oil as the world’s largest energy source in coming years. No other energy source has coal’s low-cost attributes and scale to address society’s many demands.
For those who want to learn more about combatting energy poverty, increasing access to low-cost electricity and avoiding the risks of focusing on carbon at the expense of energy access for billions around the world, visit Advanced Energy for Life at AdvancedEnergyForLife.com and Advanced Energy for Life on Facebook and YouTube. Use our Twitter handle @AdvancedEnergy.
Peabody Energy is the world’s largest private-sector coal company and a global leader in sustainable mining, energy access and clean coal solutions. For further information, visit PeabodyEnergy.com.