Historically, many countries rely heavily on coal for their power generation needs when they are developing their economy. In fact, the industrial revolution in the west was pretty much coal powered. This is not really much different accross the globe, and even now some highly developed countries like Australia (about 75% coal), America (about 34% coal), and Canada (about 10% coal) are still using coal as part of their power generation mix.
China currently derives about 75% of its energy mix from coal, although it is moving towards a greater reliance on hydro, wind, and natural gas. The consequences of the use of coal for most power generation are not lost on China’s government, which has pledged to move towards alternatives. Hopefully these ideas will be implemented and there will no longer be as much smog in Beijing (remember these photos?) as there was in December of 2016, when flights were cancelled due to high smog levels.
Coal consumption effects can be mitigated using carbon capture techniques, but this only pushes the consequences of coal burning power onto the shoulders of future generations.
What do you think? Should coal be phased out of energy generation where cleaner, but more expensive, solutions exist? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.