How Coal Use Affects the Environment in Rich and Poor Countries

Greg Howard
1st March, 2024

How Coal Use Affects the Environment in Rich and Poor Countries

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Study from Federal University of Lafia shows coal use increases CO2 emissions, harming the environment
  • Developed countries' CO2 emissions rise six times more than developing ones per 1% increase in coal use
  • Researchers recommend a gradual coal phase-out, prioritizing developed nations for greater environmental benefit
The relationship between energy consumption and environmental health is a topic of increasing importance as the world grapples with the challenges of climate change and sustainable development. A recent study from the Federal University of Lafia[1] has shed light on a critical aspect of this issue: the impact of coal consumption on environmental sustainability in both developed and developing countries. Coal has long been a bedrock of industrial progress, providing an abundant and reliable source of energy. However, its use comes at a high environmental cost, particularly in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a major contributor to global warming. The study's objective was to analyze the coal consumption-environment nexus from 2000 to 2020 and to understand the differing impacts on developed versus developing nations. Using advanced statistical methods, specifically panel data econometric techniques and the Augmented Anderson-Hsiao (AAH) two-step Generalized Method of Moments (GMM) estimator, researchers evaluated the extent to which coal consumption exacerbates environmental pollution. The GMM estimator is a statistical tool that helps to analyze panel data, which is data collected from multiple subjects over time. By using this method, the researchers could control for variables that might influence the results, ensuring a more accurate assessment of coal's environmental impact. The findings were stark: coal consumption significantly increases CO2 emissions, undermining environmental sustainability efforts. Interestingly, the detrimental effects were more pronounced in developed countries than in developing ones. For every one percent increase in coal consumption, developed countries experienced a six-fold greater increase in carbon emissions compared to their developing counterparts. This discrepancy may be due to several factors, including the efficiency of energy use, the age and technology of coal power plants, and the stringency of environmental regulations. Developed countries, with their older industrial bases, may have a higher proportion of less efficient and more polluting coal-fired power plants. In contrast, developing countries might be using coal more efficiently or have newer, cleaner technologies. The study's implications are significant for policymakers. It suggests that initiatives to phase out coal should prioritize developed nations, where the environmental benefits would be more substantial. A gradual phase-out strategy is recommended to mitigate the economic impacts while still advancing global sustainability goals. This approach aligns with the broader principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in international environmental agreements, acknowledging that developed nations have historically contributed more to environmental degradation and thus bear a greater burden in addressing it. The findings from the Federal University of Lafia's study resonate with and expand upon earlier research. For example, a study on Turkey[2] found that globalization positively impacts the ecological footprint in the long run, but trade openness can reduce it in the short term. It further suggested that shifting towards renewable energy could improve environmental quality. The South African study[3] also highlighted the role of renewable energy, human capital, and trade in reducing ecological footprints, with economic growth stimulating ecological footprints. Moreover, research on the trade-environment nexus[4] indicated that government integrity could mitigate the negative environmental impacts of trade. This suggests that improved governance and stronger institutions could play a role in managing the environmental consequences of energy use and trade policies. In conclusion, the study from the Federal University of Lafia contributes to a growing body of evidence that underscores the need for a strategic and differentiated approach to energy policy and environmental sustainability. It calls for developed countries to take the lead in reducing coal consumption and investing in cleaner energy alternatives, setting an example for the rest of the world to follow.



Main Study

1) Coal consumption-environmental sustainability nexus in developed and developing major coal-consuming economies.

Published 29th February, 2024

Related Studies

2) Does globalization matter for ecological footprint in Turkey? Evidence from dual adjustment approach.

3) The influence of renewable energy use, human capital, and trade on environmental quality in South Africa: multiple structural breaks cointegration approach.

4) Impact assessment of trade on environmental performance: accounting for the role of government integrity and economic development in 79 countries.

Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙