Case Studies in Sustainable Development in the Coal Industry
"Widely held attitudes to coal's use have evolved greatly in the past five years - from those that largely dismissed a role for coal in sustainable development to a wider appreciation of coal's continuing role in providing a foundation for energy security and in meeting growing world energy demand, but only if accompanied by improved environmental performance.
The diversity of the case studies illustrates the complex and challenging nature of sustainable development. Most relate to the top priority identified in the 2002 survey: that of taking action to reduce the environmental impacts of coal production and use. The case studies indicate that coal producers and users are more ready to engage the community and other stakeholders and there is evidence of increased collaboration along the coal chain.
The case studies illustrate a continuation of the evolutionary process identified in 2003. This starts with a narrow internal focus on economic priorities and environmental compliance and then broadens to include local environmental issues and the community. Activity in its most complex and challenging stage focuses on global issues; provides for wide stakeholder engagement and integrates social, economic and environmental considerations in decision making. Almost all of the case studies presented in this report are in the second and third stages of this evolutionary process, indicating in general a more holistic approach than previously.
However, only a minority of case studies and significantly those with the widest collaboration, the longest time horizons and most demanding programmes, relate to low carbon emission technologies for electricity generation from coal. Greater effort in developing and commercialising these technologies will be essential to address coal's greatest challenge. This will require strong leadership from governments and great commitment from industry."