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US Coal Exports Aiding Global GHG Emissions

shutterstock_136721138As 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

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2 thoughts on “US Coal Exports Aiding Global GHG Emissions

  1. Some scattered comments:
    1) It’s too bad the U.S. would consider continuing certain very destructive practices like mountaintop removal coal mining; just to supply someone else with coal.
    2) I believe, and certainly I hope, that rising coal use in Germany is nothing more than a temporary blip. Germans are in general very environmentally conscious and in addition that country has already invested heavily in renewable energy – a trend which will likely continue.
    3) Various NGOs have active campaigns to prevent construction of new coal export terminals, and anyone interested in joining those efforts should do so.
    4) It’s also too bad that the U.S. can’t follow the example of Elon Musk, who recently gave away all the patents held by the Tesla electric vehicle company, saying that keeping those patents is akin to being on a sinking ship with a better bailing bucket design but refusing to allow fellow passengers the privilege of using the better bucket. Continuing to focus on making money with coal exports while the world suffers increased GHG emissions and climate change; is totally selfish and extremely shortsighted.

  2. What exactly is news about this story?
    The same thing is happening in Australia. We have just approved our largest coal mine and have plans to cut through and dredge sections of the Great Barrier Reef (contributing large amounts of sediment that will be dumped on the reef) to facilitate its export.
    So what else is new? The developed world has been exporting its pollution to the underdeveloped world for years, now they are following suit with GHG’s.
    Why in the world would we allow third and second world nations to develop with clean technology and ethically and environmentally responsible trade practices when it is the absence of these things that allow poorer nations to produce the cheap rubbish the developed nations are so addicted to. The conflict of interest is as plain as the nose on your face.
    It is the sole reason the US has put its nose into the affairs of so many third world nations, installing puppets and funding rebel groups, to keep them the political and economic basket cases that they are so they cannot even re-consider their trade agreements, keeping them exactly where the US wants them. Not that Russia, Europe or Australia are much different.

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