PARIS -- Driven by growth in emerging market giants China and India, coal is set to surpass oil as the world's top fuel within a decade, with even Europe finding it hard to cut use despite pollution concerns, according to a report published Tuesday.
"Thanks to abundant supplies and insatiable demand for power from emerging markets, coal met nearly half of the rise in global energy demand during the first decade of the 21st century," said Maria van der Hoeven, head of the International Energy Agency.
Economic growth is expected to push up further coal's share of the global energy mix, "and if no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade," she said.
The latest IEA projections see coal consumption nearly catching oil consumption in four years time, rising to 4.32 billion tons of oil equivalent in 2017 against 4.4 billion tons for oil.
That has consequences for climate change as coal produces far more carbon emissions responsible for global warming than other fuels.
But the IEA report on coal found that even countries which have committed themselves to reducing carbon emissions are finding it difficult to resist the renewed allure of coal.
A number of European countries have seen their use of coal for electricity consumption jump at the beginning of this year, including by 65% in Spain, 35% in Britain and 8% in Germany.