Coal is likely to overtake oil as the world's main source of energy in the next five years, with potentially devastating effects in the environment, says the International Energy Agency (IEA). According to IEA, the globe's leading authority on energy economics, one of the prime factors behind the rise in coal use has been the massive increase in the use of shale gas in the U.S., which has a smaller carbon footprint than coal when burned. The decline of fuel consumption in the U.S. has helped to cut prices for coal globally, says the IEA report, which has made it more attractive even in Europe, where coal use was supposed to be discouraged by the emissions trading scheme. The Paris-based agency predicts the amount of coal burned around the world every year will increase by an additional 1.2 billion metric tons — an amount roughly equivalent to the current annual coal consumption of the U.S. and Russia combined.
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