The goal of sustainable development is to ensure economic growth today without jeopardising economic development, the social well-being and natural environment of future generations. Energy consumption is closely tied to this goal and plays a key role in determining whether is attainable. As oil, gas and coal still heavily dominate world energy supply, fossil fuels – because of their environmental impact – have been challenged to contribute to a cleaner and sustainable energy future.
In 2002, the International Energy Agency Coal Industry Advisory Board issued a position paper at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development that recognised the paramount importance of sustainable development and committed to rally its members to provide evidence of progress towards sustainable development. In this compendium of over fifty case studies, the coal industry demonstrates that practical progress is being made in many areas: communities and people; resource stewardship and environmental impacts; management processes and systems; and along the value chain, in co-operation with customers and suppliers.
This publication illustrates that many of the commercial objectives of the coal industry – cost effective achievement of environmental standards, technology research and development, technology transfer and collaboration along the value chain – are also issues that governments can approach positively, in consultation with industry, so that coal is able to have a long-term role in sustainable development.
The IEA is composed of representatives of the coal and coal-using industry worldwide.