By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Despite claims to the contrary, the climate agreement made in Scotland this month will have little effect on Wyoming or the rest of the country, according to the president of the Wyoming Mining Association.
According to the Associated Press, almost 200 nations accepted a compromise deal reached during the United Nations climate change conference that was intended to fight global warming. However, a change promoted by India saw the agreement revised to have countries “phase down,” rather than “phase out” their use of coal.
“You know, these things come and go, but they don’t mean much,” WMA Executive Director Travis Deti told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “I think what you could take away from the watered-down language on coal was that there are some people out there that understand that the world needs coal.”
Deti said that in order for a developing nation to move into a modern economy, it needs coal as an energy source.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 477 million short tons of coal were consumed in the nation last year. This was equal to about 10% of the total U.S. energy consumption.
Coal has long been identified by those who say the world’s climate is changing as a source of greenhouse gases that trap heat around the globe.
According to Reuters, scientists say warming beyond this point could unleash irreversible and uncontrollable climate impacts.
Officials at the climate conference attempted to uphold the goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, keeping global temperature from rising beyond 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, by drafting an agreement calling for an end to the use of coal.
The change championed by India, however, called for a reduction in the use of coal rather than its elimination as a power source.
Deti said that the climate agreement would have no effect on Wyoming’s coal operation, or really on any facet of life in the state. He does expect the trend to move away from coal to continue, but doesn’t see that having an adverse effect on the state at least for a few years.
He also noted that when gas prices are high, the prices of coal also rise. He noted that coal prices in the Powder River Basin doubled in the last week and that the state’s mining companies have basically committed to sell all the coal they produce until 2023.
“We’re gonna have a pretty good couple of years on the coal side in Wyoming,” Deti said. “The world needs coal. The world needs fossil fuels. You’re not going to power developing economies or mature economies with wind and solar. You need that reliability that comes from fossil fuels, and coal in particular.”