The World Coal Association notes that The Institute of Public Affairs, a public policy think tank based in Melbourne, Australia, recently released The life saving potential of coal: How Australian coal could help 82 million Indians access electricity. The report looks into the value of Australian coal, not just in Australia itself but also further afield, as solutions to global energy poverty continue to be sought.The report begins by demonstrating the progress that has been made globally in terms of poverty reduction over recent years. Affordable energy has led to great advancements in fields such as technology, medicine and infrastructure, all improving people’s lives. Coal, as the most affordable and reliable source of energy, has been at the forefront of this movement. Between 1990 and 2010 some 830 million people gained access to electricity for the first time thanks to coal-fired generation, many in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.The report points out that coal consumption around the world continues to increase and is projected to do so over the next 25 years, before looking at India and China and how coal has changed the landscape of these two developing nations. China, in particular, is shown as an example of the power of coal and its ability to bring people out of poverty, with the report highlighting coal’s role in the country’s rapid economic development.The report points out that the priority for the Indian and Chinese governments is to pursue policies which will increase the quality of life for their citizens, identifying coal as a legitimate means of doing so.The WCA also recently welcomed the announcement by China of its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) in preparation for the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris later this year.“China has put low emissions coal technology at the centre of its commitment to building a low carbon energy system,” said WCA Chief Executive Benjamin Sporton. “China’s INDC shows that coal will remain a crucial part of their energy mix for decades to come. The INDC represents a real commitment by China to use modern high efficiency low emission coal-fired power generation and develop carbon capture and storage.”According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) New Policies Scenario Chinese electricity generation from coal will be 45% higher in 2040 than it is now – despite its total share of the energy mix reducing from 76% now to 52% in 2040.“Coal has powered the huge advances we have seen in China’s economy in the past few decades lifting 600 million people out of poverty and connecting 99% of its population to the electricity grid. China is now a leading player in the deployment of low emission coal technology. Their INDC announcement shows that economies can continue grow with the benefits of affordable, reliable coal while taking ambitious action on reducing carbon emissions,” Sporton said.Modern high efficiency low emission supercritical and ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants emit up to 35% less than CO2 than older subcritical plants. They also have significantly reduced emissions of SOx, NOx and particulate matter which means they have significant air quality benefits. High efficiency low emission coal plants are also an important first step on the pathway to carbon capture and storage.Sporton said: “The climate talks in Paris later this year must recognise that low emission coal technologies will be a crucial to achieving the world’s climate objectives. Without action on high efficiency low emission and carbon capture and storage technology it will be impossible to achieve the 2 degree target.”“China’s growing economy means demand for energy will continue to grow and it is clear from the announcement today that all energy sources will play their part,” Sporton said.“Recent market fluctuations have led some commentators to claim that China is moving away from coal. China’s announcement shows that is patently not true. China has made serious commitments to low emission coal technology because coal will continue to be the backbone of its energy mix for decades to come.”Picture courtesy of China Shenhua Energy Co.