Skip to main content

21st century coal and the fight against energy inequality

World Coal,

Peabody Energy chairman and CEO, Gregory Boyce, has urged world leaders to fight energy inequality by using 21st century coal.

At the 34th Coaltrans World Coal Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Boyce said that coal would have a major role to play in alleviating energy poverty.

Boyce delivered a keynote speech at the conference, in which he called on global leaders to focus on twin energy challenges: creating low-cost energy access to satisfy projected energy growth, as well as addressing the immediate needs of the world’s energy impoverished. He also reviewed the policy platform that will be vital in achieving these goals.

Energy is life

"Abundant low-cost energy allows everyone to live longer and to live better," said Boyce. "With it, we can do almost anything.  Without it, we are consigned to short, mean lives.  Quite simply: Energy is life, and coal is energy. Today, I call on all of us to recognise the life-giving resource that energy provides and coal's vital role in securing a strong energy future."

Demand for coal continues to increase year in and year out. The resource is the world's fastest-growing major fuel, which helps support global population growth and urbanisation. Forecasts suggest that in the next 15 years, the world population will exceed 8.3 billion people. Billions more will be added to cities.  Electricity use will be increase 69%, based on the International Energy Agency's current policies scenario. Such growth demands support from the energy industry and coal will remain a key part in underpinning this growth.

Boyce said that energy is essential for people and economies to thrive.  Yet as the world nears the 2015 UN Millennium goal deadline to halve extreme global poverty, the effects of energy poverty are widespread. 

As many as 3.5 billion people lack proper energy access, and 1.2 billion are children. Some 3 billion people rely on primitive biomass for cooking and heating. Often the heaviest burden falls on women and children who walk hours each day to secure firewood or biomass for primitive indoor stoves.  The smoke from daily indoor fires results in dire health effects: more than 4 million people die each year from indoor air pollution.

"One cannot begin to comprehend the gruelling fight against energy poverty that weighs on the shoulders of families day after day throughout the developing world. Humanity deserves so much more. I submit that energy poverty is the most serious crisis that our world faces. It's high time we reset our priorities to address this issue," Boyce said. 

Boyce also challenged the world to deliver more coal more cleanly to help satisfy growing energy needs and achieve important environmental goals using 21st century coal, a concept advanced by the US and China at the 2009 Beijing Summit. 21st century coal describes modern high-efficiency supercritical technology, as well as the collection of technologies that reduce key power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates and mercury.

"Greater use of advanced coal is the solution to fight energy inequality and improve emissions. Fuel choices matter and policy choices matter," Boyce added.  

The Peabody CEO concluded his keynote speech by urging leaders to work toward polices that protect people and the environment: "Our journey is long and begins with a single step. Let's take that step today. Together we can end energy inequality if we are willing to work with governments and allies across all sectors. I challenge all of us to work toward a better future for our families and children than we have today by extending the golden thread of modern energy."

Lifetime recognition

At the World Coal Conference, Boyce was also honoured for a lifetime of contributions to the global coal industry to advance sustainable mining, energy access and clean coal solutions.  

Boyce was recognised for his support of public policies to expand development and deployment of coal conversion and clean coal technologies, as well as his initiatives to increase public awareness and support of 21stcentury coal and the essential role it brings in advancing economic progress and a better quality of life.

Written by Sam Dodson

Read the article online at:


Embed article link: (copy the HTML code below):