The surge in global coal consumption, driven largely by China and India, has climate scientists deeply worried.
But environmentalists and a growing number of financial experts say that alarm over global warming may halt the seemingly inevitable rise of the coal industry.
The problem, as the world’s climate scientists point out, is that to continue burning coal at the ever-expanding pace of recent years means that there is little hope of holding global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6
degrees Fahrenheit). To combust even a third to a half of the world’s proven reserves of coal would — barring the widespread adoption of carbon-capture technologies — lead to a climate-destabilizing rise in temperature far in excess of 2 degrees C, according to recent studies.