Thus, the IPCC argues the answer lies in a portfolio approach to reducing emissions from the energy supply sector, including replacing inefficient power plants, cutting down on the use of electricity in general and potentially moving from large, centralized power plants to small distributed ones. This shift will have to take place nearly immediately in order to avoid more than two degrees Celsius of warming: "Emissions will have to peak no later than 2015 and start back down again," Moomaw says. "Early actions are important."
And those changes will have to be permanent. "Stabilization of concentrations [of greenhouse gases] in the atmosphere will ultimately require nearly net-zero emissions before the end of the century," says Richard Bradley, head of the energy efficiency and environment division at the International Energy Agency in Paris. "The IPCC report demonstrates that costs can be manageable if action begins soon." Mastering carbon capture and storage will be a big part of that if the world continues to rely on coal as expected, perhaps preventing catastrophic global climate change. But it will not do much to prevent the local damage caused by coal mining in the first place. As Tennessee coal mining region resident Ann League says: "The impacts of coal mining abuse do not stop at a mountain's edge."