The burning of coal to generate energy is a major contributor to global warming. Coal is a fossil fuel, meaning it captures and stores carbon dioxide in the ground when it forms, but when burned it releases that carbon into the atmosphere. That’s why the use of coal-fired power plants to generate electricity is such a source of concern due to its significant effect on climate change and the resulting negative consequences.
Coal-fired power plants are the most significant source of human-induced carbon dioxide emissions. The combustion of coal releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases into the atmosphere, leading to an increase in global warming. Coal is also known for its high sulfur content, which further contributes to air pollution and climate change. The emissions from coal plants are also linked to a wide range of environmental and health problems, from acid rain and smog to respiratory and cardiac health issues.
In addition to contributing to climate change, the burning of coal has a serious environmental impact. Mining for coal releases dust, soot and other toxic particles into the atmosphere, damaging local ecosystems and damaging human health. Coal-fired power plants also use enormous amounts of water for cooling, which can deplete vital bodies of water that are also needed for drinking and irrigation. The ash produced by burning coal must also be contained and disposed of properly, often polluting sites of public use.
On the flip side, coal is an abundant, reliable source of energy in many countries around the world. In fact, coal is the single largest source of energy accounting for over 40% percent of global electricity today. It is an attractive option due to its low cost and easy availability. Coal-fired power plants are often used as baseload power sources, thanks to their ability to produce reliable, steady output over long periods of time.
The real challenge for countries looking to reduce their dependence on coal is how to transition to greener, more sustainable energy sources. Renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal are becoming increasingly attractive due to their minimal environmental impact and abundance of sources. In addition, advances in battery technology are making it much easier to store the energy generated from renewables for future use, allowing for more efficient use of resources and lower dependence on coal.
To achieve the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement, global leaders must take urgent action to reduce emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. This will require a significant shift in the way we generate and use energy around the world. Countries must take steps to reduce their dependence on coal and transition to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources, such as renewable and advanced battery storage. This transition will require significant investment and policy changes, but ultimately it will be necessary to reduce the human contribution to global warming, and ensure a more equitable, secure and healthier future for our planet.