Ushering in the end of coal’s stronghold on U.S. energy
Coal was once king in the U.S., accounting for more than 40 percent of our electricity as recently as 2014. The good news is people around the world are moving away from dirty, polluting coal in favor of clean, renewable, affordable energy. Right now, we have the chance to quit coal for good and keep remaining U.S. coal reserves in the ground.
© Paul Langrock / Greenpeace
All around the world, people are mobilizing against coal. We’re standing with them in their fight to protect the climate and keep coal in the ground.
Here’s why we need to quit coal for good.
Coal Fuels Global Warming
The impacts of climate change around the world are increasingly clear. If we’re going to make any progress, we urgently need to end our reliance on fossil fuels.
Coal is the single largest contributor to global warming. Currently, one-third of all global carbon dioxide emissions come from burning coal. Additionally, scientists are increasing clear that in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to leave 80 percent of global carbon deposits—like coal mines—in the ground.
Unfortunately, the U.S. government continues to give away our public land to coal companies. Since President Obama took office in 2008, the federal government has sold more than 2.2 billion tons of our coal, unlocking more than 3.9 billion metric tons of carbon pollution. This is the equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 825 million passenger vehicles and more than the 3.7 billion tons that was emitted in the entire European Union in 2012.
If we are serious about addressing climate change here in the U.S., we must keep coal in the ground.
Coal Means Pollution
Let’s call it like it is—coal is really dirty.
There’s simply no way to extract or burn coal without polluting our air and water and threatening human health.
Coal-burning power plants contribute to air and water pollution and create tons of toxic coal ash that ends up in our drinking water. Coal mining, meanwhile, disrupts communities with mountain top removal and strip mines.
Historically, the health effects of burning coal are astounding:
- Pollution from coal is linked to four of the five leading causes of death in the US: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and respiratory diseases.
- Every year, 36,000 Americans die as a result of air pollution from coal-fired power plants.
- Nearly one in ten children in the U.S. has asthma.
While significant steps have been taken in recent years to address some of the concerns with coal pollution, burning and extracting coal continues to pose serious threats to our health, our environment and our climate.
Keep Coal in the Ground
The only way to avoid these health impacts and curb climate change is to keep coal where it belongs—in the ground.