Dossier: Coal Atlas - Facts and figures on a fossil fuel

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Coal was, and still is, the fuel of industrialization and global economic growth. Though its negative consequences for humans and nature outweigh its economic benefits. We hope that our Coal Atlas will spur the international campaign to phase out the use of coal.

Graphic "Like there is no tomorrow"
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Digging up coal and using it to generate electricity churns out emissions that intensify the greenhouse effect. Coal is one of the biggest sources of climate change. A chapter from the Coal Atlas.

Our Coal Atlas contains the latest facts and figures on the use of coal and its environmental and social consequences. With more than 60 detailed graphics, the atlas illustrates the coal industry’s impact on nature, health, labour, human rights and politics.

The Coal Atlas is available in a printed version, in PDF, epub, mobi format and as an online dossier. All graphics and texts are under the open Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA: You can share and adapt the work in compliance with these conditions. All graphics can be found in different formats and can be downloaded here.

Graphic "Big money, small future"
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Digging mines, building power plants and providing infrastructure cost billions. Many countries cannot afford the investments; credit agencies and multilateral and private banks are glad to step in.

Outcut from the graphic "Not airtight"
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With the promise of “clean coal”, the industry intends to store carbon dioxide underground. However, this method of dealing with the climate crisis fails for both technical and economic reasons.

More on coal and climate change

Climate change is already here. With less than 1°C of global warming, the impacts of climate change are already severe on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. The report is released by the Carbon Levy Project and outlines several cases where developing countries have suffered real loss and damage from climate change impacts.

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Germany’s energy transition, or Energiewende, has been a success story. But one lesson to be drawn is that energy policy decisions taken in one EU member state affect other EU member states as well. For these reasons, the Heinrich Böll Foundation initiated a project entitled “The German Energy Transition in the European Context”.

In this issue, our authors report on conflicts stemming from coal and copper mining in Afghanistan, India, and Myanmar. The articles on Cambodia and on Inner Mongolia in China illustrate how the traditional economic models and ways of life of indigenous populations suffer from the unrestrained exploitation of raw materials.

90 oil, gas & coal producers are responsible for two thirds of our CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. It’s time to make them pay for their climate damage.

Further publications

cover meat atlas

This publication sheds light on the impacts of meat and dairy production, and aims to catalyse the debate over the need for better, safer and more sustainable food and farming.

Through misuse, we lose 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil every year. For the International Year of Soils in 2015, this Atlas shows, why the soil should concern us all. Jointly published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies.

Cover Turning point

The transformation of economic growth towards a lower dependency on fossil fuels and related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is essential for the feasibility of a successful global climate strategy. A study by DIW Econ.