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Global Warming and the Future of Coal: Carbon Capture and Storage

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Ever-rising industrial and consumer demand for more power in tandem with cheap and abundant coal reserves across the globe are expected to result in the construction of new coal-fired power plants producing 1,400 gigawatts of electricity by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency. In the absence of emission controls, these new plants will increase worldwide annual emissions of carbon dioxide by approximately 7.6 billion metric tons by 2030. These emissions would equal roughly 50 percent of all fossil fuel emissions over the past 250 years.

In China and other developing countries experiencing strong economic growth, demand for power is surging dramatically, with low-cost coal the fuel of choice for new power plants. Emissions in these countries are now rising faster than in developed economies in North America and Europe: China will soon overtake the United States as the world’s number one greenhouse gas emitter. With the power sector expanding rapidly, China and India will fall further behind in controlling greenhouse gas emissions unless new coal plants adopt emission controls. Lack of progress in these countries would doom to failure global efforts to combat global warming.