This article was originally published on World Coal by World Coal Association

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) this week released a study looking at the benefits of coal to society. The report The Social Costs Of Carbon? No, The Social Benefits Of Carbon shows that the benefits of fossil fuel energy to society far outweigh the social costs of carbon (SCC) by a magnitude of 50 to 500 times.

According to the study, over the past 250 years global life expectancy has more than doubled and incomes have increased 11-fold in large part due to increased energy production and delivery, most of which has been fossil-based.

A US Federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) has estimated the social cost of carbon (SCC) to be $36/ton; however, the ACCCE report finds that the actual societal benefits of carbon – as a by-product of energy production – is 50 to 500 times greater than the perceived cost.

The report highlights that coal is the world’s fastest growing energy source and has increased nearly as much as all other sources of fuel combined. Much of this growth is in emerging economies like China and India, which are just beginning to realise the social and economic benefits that reliable, affordable electricity can bring. It is expected that coal will continue to be the leading feedstock for electricity generation around the globe for at least the next three decades.

In the US, coal remains the largest feedstock for baseload electricity generation, supplying nearly 40% of the nation’s electricity. However, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making it increasingly difficult for clean coal energy to survive in the US. The EPA’s proposed rule for new coal-fired power plants, the New Source Performance Standard (NSPS), has been widely criticised for its unachievable requirements. NSPS requires the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) for all new coal-fuelled power plants, a technology not yet commercially viable. The EPA proposal effectively bans new coal plants.

ACCCE President and CEO, Mike Duncan, launched the report this week, stating: “It is without question or debate that our national and global societies have benefited from fossil fuels. And those benefits will continue to be realised from coast to coast and around the globe for generations to come. If this Administration attempts to calculate the future costs of carbon, it’s imperative that policymakers also consider the actual and potential benefits of our carbon-based economy.”

The report highlights the importance of technology in meet global environment and development goals. It states: “…if the world is serious about maintaining and increasing economic growth, reducing energy poverty, lessening person’s energy burdens, and increasing standards of living in the non-OECD nations while at the same time limiting CO2 emissions, advanced technologies and meaningful carbon capture and sequestration policies are required”.

A copy of the full report is available to download on the ACCCE website