In 2005, around 28% of the global commodity energy consumption came from coal (note: these figures never included non-traded energy such as fire wood, cow dung, passive solar etc). Coal is the second most traded energy after coal and worldwide consumption has risen 60% since 1980. Almost half of this increase has happened since 2001. Apparently, global reserves of hard coal stand at 745 Gt and even at the consumption figurees currently indicated from recent trends, that means we'd still have 700 Gt by 2030. So, according to Peter Gerling, we've got sufficient global coal to meet global demand for many decades even if took to converting much of it to liquid fuels or gas.
Peter Gerling did touch on the issue of CO2 emissions resulting from a continued and increasing dependence on coal but it was really left to a later speaker to address the true inplications of this sucidal idea.
Jeremy Legget used to work for BP, now he is an evironmental lobbyist. He spoke about the "daunting arithmetic of carbon fuels" and his talk took on greater significance as we heard that tempuratures in London had hit 39 degs centegrade and that people were dropping down dead in france due to the heat. He insisteded that climate disruption and peak oil all suggest that we must accept the need to leave much of the remaining fossil fuels where they are or sequester their emissions effectively if we are to avoid hitting a tipping point of no return which leads to positive feedback loops and run away global warming.
Meanwhile, back in London with millions of electric fans and air conditioning running full blast, spot prices for wholesale electricity went through the roof. Yesterday evening, a megawatt hour was trading at an average of 260 pounds, compared to just 81 pounds on Monday evening. The National Grid issued an 'insufficient margin warning', saying that there was a danger that demand in the hot weather would exceed spare power generation capacity.