By Matt Mackowiak - Manager, Government Affairs - CONSOL Energy
November 3, 2023 - As advanced nations pursue the glittering dream of transitioning to alternative forms of energy–issuing calls and challenges for the rest of the world to join the parade–the one constant that got us here in the first place has been unfairly slandered and vilified to promote the promise of renewable energy.
Of course, that one constant is coal, a proven means of helping people to rise out of poverty and energizing human progress. In fact, the global demand and supply for coal reached an all-time high in 2022 for these reasons.1 Want more proof? Coal remains the most abundant source of electricity on this planet, accounting for 35% of the world’s total electric power supply in 2022 according to the Energy Institute.2 With roughly 774 million3 people in the world still without access to electricity, the continued need to harness and process our natural coal reserves appears self-evident.
Coal Is Key to Conquering Global Poverty
Coal has long served as a vital raw material for making steel and cement, two of the most necessary and prevalent construction materials in the world.4 In practical terms, that means much of our modern-day infrastructure sprang into use with the help of coal. Developing nations pine for those same advances right now.
Why would we not help emerging populations take this accessible road out of energy poverty and build the infrastructure they need for an improved quality of life, when our own history followed the exact same path? The solution comes back to coal. Especially now, when the advancements still being made in abated, lower-emission coal technologies can be shared for years to come? If the U.S. accepts the mantle of worldwide energy leadership, we must insist that developing nations at least get in the game before they can begin to catch up.
Meeting the Basic Needs of Billions Around the World
Surprising to many, coal remains essential for meeting the basic human needs of billions of people around the world, and they have a right to realize the immense benefits of fossil fuels—benefits that far outweigh the consequences of not utilizing these broadly accessible and reliable sources of energy as a vital driver of economic development. Denying these countries affordable energy brings with it severe ethical and moral consequences. So, the next time you hear how coal and other fossil fuels have got to go, your response should be, “Not so fast.”
 International Energy Agency (IEA): Coal Market Update–July 2023
 Energy Institute: Statistical Review of World Energy 2023 (Page 53)
 International Energy Agency (IEA): World Energy Outlook 2022 (Page 164)
 World Coal Association: Coal & Steel