The Pope’s encyclical on climate change offers the opportunity for the global community to thoughtfully consider quality of life issues and human betterment. Access to affordable energy and electricity must be a primary objective. At least 1.3 of the 7 billion people in the world have no electricity access at all, and more than double that number have inadequate access to it. Basic needs of clean water, sanitation, medical care, lighting, and warmth and cooling are impossible to meet without electricity. Coal is a critical input for meeting those needs, fueling about 40% of the world’s electricity.
Consideration of human betterment goes hand-in-hand with healthy economies, and healthy economies support environmental success. In the United States, conventional emissions from coal-based generation have been reduced by nearly 90% over the past four decades. The investments made to achieve lower emissions in America have resulted in off-the-shelf technologies being available worldwide for emissions improvements. The American Coal Council supports policies balancing environmental and economic objectives as the best way to enhance the human environment.