As the US shifts its emphasis to natural gas power plants and exports its coal to other parts of the world, it may be simply moving the potential for greenhouse gas emissions to another country, according to the Associated Press.
The multi-billion dollar fossil fuel trade has thrived under the Obama administration. However, while the US is working to set a good example for the rest of the world by reducing demand for fossil fuels and lowering its greenhouse gas emissions, many are unaware that US energy companies are sending more fossil fuels than ever to other parts of the world.
In some cases, exports are ending up in areas of the world that have environmental standards that are more lax than those in the US, or where governments are unwilling to tackle the emissions responsible for global warming.
According to the latest data available, about nine percent of worldwide coal exports originate in the US.
As US companies plan new coal export terminals, the Obama administration has resisted evaluating the global fallout of coal exports, noting that if the US didn’t supply the coal, another country would.
While some countries, such as China and Australia, are actively working to reduce their coal usage, some are actually moving the other direction. Germany is currently experiencing a resurgence in coal-fired power, with some of its coal imported from the US. In 2013, Germany’s emissions of carbon dioxide increased by 1.2 percent.
Last year, global coal use increased by three percent, faster than any other fossil fuel, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy.
Photo Credit: Coal barge via Shutterstock