Coal lobbyists are pushing for new coal terminals to be built on the U.S. West Coast to provide easier access to Asia. Exports to China – the world's biggest coal producer and consumer – have been growing rapidly. Last year one U.S. coal company signed a $7 billion export agreement with an Indian conglomerate. Other deals are in the pipeline.
A recent report from the UK's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research looked at the growth of the shale gas industry in the United States and questioned whether it had contributed to a global drop in CO2 emissions.
The answer was no: Tyndall's calculations suggest that more than half of the emissions avoided in the U.S. power sector – through the switch from coal to gas – may have been exported as coal.
"Without a meaningful cap on global carbon emissions, the exploitation of shale gas is likely to increase total emissions," said the report. "For this not to be the case, consumption of displaced fuels must be reduced globally and remain suppressed indefinitely."
"In effect displaced coal must stay in the ground."
This article originally appeared at The Daily Climate, the climate change news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.