Coal is an anachronism that also happens to be the single largest source of electricity on the planet. Some of its resilience reflects pure politics (“beautiful clean coal”). But there’s another aspect more akin to that guilty pleasure that floods through you when you devour a hamburger. Like you, sometimes a country wants energy fast and doesn’t want to pay for fine dining.
The first, most obvious observation is that higher-income countries tend to be both less energy-intensive and use less coal. Equally, those using more coal tend to be energy-intensive developing economies, with China and India being obvious examples.
Start with the anomalies. Australia sticks out for being rich, energy efficient and yet addicted to coal—not a big surprise, given it is a huge producer. Read More