FAQ: coal, economic development and poverty reduction

 

 

Is coal energy really needed to spur economic development and reduce poverty?

 

 

Ilmi Granoff, Sarah Wykes, Alison Doig, Sam Pickard, Laurie Van Der Burg and Ryan Hogarth

 

 

Poverty is the state of human deprivation – deprivation of basic material needs, rights and freedoms, social and political power, education and economic participation. In 2012, almost 900 million people lived on less than $1.90 per day, a level of income considered to be inadequate for basic food, shelter and clothing, and a crude but practical indicator of extreme poverty.

 

 

The coal industry asserts that continued investment in coal is needed to grow developing economies and combat poverty. The logic runs that coal is necessary to provide the energy required for industrialisation, the process of structural change from anagrarian society to one based primarily on manufacturing. Historically, industrialisation has enabled some countries to rapidly increase economic productivity, employment and income levels.

 

 

The consumption of coal and other fossil fuels for industrialisation, however, is a major cause of global warming. A shift away from coal is necessary for climate protection.

 

 

The argument that further expansion in coal energy is needed to combat poverty is based on tenuous assumptions about the relationships between energy, industrialisation and poverty. The following FAQs show why.

 

 

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