- Joint Program Policy Note
Natural gas will be more important than the Kyoto Protocol to coal's future. How, and whether, this ambitious international agreement is implemented will significantly affect coal's prospects. But the more important feature of coal's future is likely to be the possibility for displacement by other fuels, specifically natural gas, whose recent expansion is due far more to its newly found abundance than to its touted environmental attributes. Natural gas enjoys an ease of handling and environmental attributes that give it clear advantages in relatively small-scale uses typical of households, commercial establishments and general industry. Coal's only advantage is price. Low cost is not an insignificant advantage, but it is a relative one that depends as much on the competing fuel as it does on coal. Therein lies a threat, no less serious but more real than the prospects for meaningful implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.