Coal is arguably the biggest bogeyman in the fight against climate change. Coal has higher levels of carbon than other fossil fuels, relative to the energy it produces, so it’s responsible for about 25% of US emissions. Globally, it’s responsible for about 44% of emissions.
Coal consumption, as we all know, is in decline in the US, driven mostly by the fracking revolution unlocking domestic supplies of natural gas to be used for electricity production. It’s on the decline elsewhere as well. For example, India recently canceled plans to build nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations. China cancelled 103 coal projects just a few months earlier.
But let’s not forget that the move away from coal creates winners and losers. Today, I went to a screening of From the Ashes, hosted by the Environmental Defense Fund. It’s a moving film because it tells the stories of people, not statistical “jobs.” As the New York Times put it in a review, “‘From the Ashes’ doesn’t need much commentary from Washington or from corporate spokesmen as it interviews people in Appalachia or Wyoming whose land, air and water may have been spoiled by coal mining. Their dismay is real enough, and their sorrows say far more than statistics.”
One miner shared, “The thing about coal is that somebody is taking a paycheck home on Friday night and putting shoes on a baby.” Those paychecks are going away. So how can we help support coal communities, instead of demonizing them? Here’s one way:
“When you make a donation on CrowdRise to Coalfield Development Corporation, the Just Transition Fund, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils, Bloomberg Philanthropies will match a portion of the donation and cover all transaction fees.”
We also had a great discussion afterward and I got to meet several EDF “ambassadors” – including one who was trained as a climate reality leader in 2011.