"At the same time, [carbon dioxide] policy will hinder investment in new coal plants," the IEA report said.
Van der Hoeven said that coal-fired heat and power generation are the largest singles source of carbon dioxide emissions resulting from fuel combustion. More than three-fifths of the rise in global CO2 emissions since 2000 is due to the burning of coal to produce electricity and heat, she said. And, she said, the health problems tied to local pollution from coal combustion should not be overlooked.
Also, van der Hoeven noted, some major counties have recently announced policies to encourage the construction of more efficient coal plants, and to promote carbon capture and storage, or CCS.
"We welcome those efforts as part of the broader push to reduce the environmental impact of coal," she said. "Yet if nothing more than those emissions-reduction policy commitments and pledges announced to date are implemented, we project that the long-term increase in global temperatures will reach 4 degrees Celsius.
"This would exceed the globally agreed target of limiting the long-term rise in temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius and would lead to a devastating and costly change in climate, the first signs of which we are already seeing today."
While global coal demand is expected to rise, U.S. government studies have projected that production of coal in the Central Appalachian region -- mostly Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky -- will drop dramatically over the next two decades. Analysts blame cheap natural gas supplies, tougher environmental rules and the mining out of Central Appalachia's easiest-to-mine coal supplies.
The IEA report says that, "Uncertainties surrounding future demand in China, and actions by environmental and anti-coal groups will also hamper the growth of U.S. coal exports, despite the existence of promising low-cost production areas, including the Illinois and Power River basins."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.