What Are the Top 10 Coal-Burning Countries on the Planet? Who's #1?

Heavy equipment mining coal

 Dominik Vanyi / Unsplash

Total World Coal Consumption in 2008: 7,238,207,000 Short Tons!
When it comes to global warming and air pollution, coal is enemy #1. We were curious to know which countries burned the most, so we compiled a list of the top 10 coal-burning countries in the world based on the latest statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). We chose not to use per capita numbers because the atmosphere doesn't care about that; in the end, all that matters is absolutely numbers. Do you know who's #1? Could you guess most of the list?

#10 South-Korea 112,843 thousand short tons

#9 Poland 149,333 thousand short tons

#8 Australia 160,515 thousand short tons

#7 South Africa: 193,654 thousand short tons

#6 Japan: 203,979 thousand short tons

#5 Russia: 269,684 thousand short tons

#4 Germany: 269,892 thousand short tons

#3 India: 637,522 thousand short tons

#2 USA: 1,121,714 thousand short tons

#1 China: 2,829,515 thousand short tons

Danger! World Coal Consumption is Going Up Rapidly
According to the EIA numbers, between 2004 and 2008, total world consumption of coal went from 6,259,645,000 to 7,238,208,000 short tons. That's a 15.6% increase of the most carbon-intensive kind of fuel in just 4 years. Ouch.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy:

Carbon dioxide (CO2) forms during coal combustion when one atom of carbon (C) unites with two atoms of oxygen (O) from the air. Because the atomic weight of carbon is 12 and that of oxygen is 16, the atomic weight of carbon dioxide is 44. Based on that ratio, and assuming complete combustion, 1 pound of carbon combines with 2.667 pounds of oxygen to produce 3.667 pounds of carbon dioxide. For example, coal with a carbon content of 78 percent and a heating value of 14,000 Btu per pound emits about 204.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per million Btu when completely burned. Complete combustion of 1 short ton (2,000 pounds) of this coal will generate about 5,720 pounds (2.86 short tons) of carbon dioxide.