Top 10 Coal-Burning Countries

By Michael Graham Richard, TreeHugger

Total World Coal Consumption in 2008: 7,238,207,000 Short Tons!
When it comes to global warming and air pollution, coal is the number one enemy. We were curious to know which countries burned the most, so we compiled a list of the top 10 coal-burning countries in the world based on the latest statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). We chose not to use per capita numbers because the atmosphere doesn’t care about that; in the end, all that matters is absolute numbers. Do you know which country’s number one? Could you guess most of the list?

#10 South-Korea 112,843 thousand short tons

#9 Poland 149,333 thousand short tons

#8 Australia 160,515 thousand short tons

#7 South Africa: 193,654 thousand short tons

#6 Japan: 203,979 thousand short tons

#5 Russia: 269,684 thousand short tons

#4 Germany: 269,892 thousand short tons

#3 India: 637,522 thousand short tons

#2 USA: 1,121,714 thousand short tons

#1 China: 2,829,515 thousand short tons

Danger! World Coal Consumption is Going Up Rapidly
According to the EIA numbers, between 2004 and 2008, total world consumption of coal went from 6,259,645,000 to 7,238,208,000 short tons. That’s a 15.6 percent increase of the most carbon-intensive kind of fuel in just four years. Ouch.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy:

Carbon dioxide (CO2) forms during coal combustion when one atom of carbon (C) unites with two atoms of oxygen (O) from the air. Because the atomic weight of carbon is 12 and that of oxygen is 16, the atomic weight of carbon dioxide is 44. Based on that ratio, and assuming complete combustion, 1 pound of carbon combines with 2.667 pounds of oxygen to produce 3.667 pounds of carbon dioxide. For example, coal with a carbon content of 78 percent and a heating value of 14,000 Btu per pound emits about 204.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per million Btu when completely burned. Complete combustion of 1 short ton (2,000 pounds) of this coal will generate about 5,720 pounds (2.86 short tons) of carbon dioxide.

Via: EIA


Yulan Lawson
Yulan Lawson3 years ago

It's ineresting how a lot of industry is moving to China, which doesn't have carbon tax because they're still seen as a developing country. It's all a way to avoid the tax.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

Dale Overall

Interesting and informative,

Janine H.
Janine H.4 years ago

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

John S.
Past Member 4 years ago

Would be more interesting if it were by the number of people, or percent of total energy. Thanks anyway.

Dan Martin
Dan Martin5 years ago

Interesting, I think until the full cost of coal or oil is realized upfront instead of just being treated like an externality that renewables will have a hard time gaining large scale use. Costs exist for coal in terms of acid rain, mercury, asthma that are not realized in our power bills. Oil has costs such as military bases in Kuwait that do not show up at the pump. Until we get a better calculation of cost, the products are essentially subsidized.

Rod S.
Rod Swann5 years ago is interesting, but the alternatives have been greatly ignored in order to substantiate the argument.
For example; in England we are moving quickly towards wind power generated by hundreds of 300ft high 'windmills'. 'Fine' you might say, but what do we do when the wind fails?
What will we do when our nuclear power plants are unable to produce the amount needed for all? We'll back it up from coal-powered plants.
Why don't we use coal from the massive reserves under our feet? (deep coal veins). Because we can buy it cheaper from other countries because it is sold at a much reduced rate by the governments.
Despite all this, you have failed to tell us of the CO2 rates emitted to produce solar panels etc; their cost and reliability, never mind their efficiency.
Please don't push for something without giving us sensible comparisons that we can relate to.
The coal mines were killed in Britain by a government in order to crush Trade Unions. Nothing to do with health or cost.
Were it not for that very reason, we would be using much more coal than we do today. And there would be tens of thousands more people employed than there are now.
You worry about health too much when people don't have the means to buy food. What chances for THEIR good health?

Richard E Cooley
Richard E Cooley5 years ago

Doesn't take into account the population of these countries. I would like to see how much the top ten would change. The USA and China would probility still land in the top ten but further down on the list.

Linda Mills
Linda Mills5 years ago