Coal's carbon emissions, pollution and accidents in its extraction cost the world an estimated ?360 billion (£298.7 billion), according to a new report.
The study by Greenpeace and CE Delft projects the cost will rise if the billions of people who will be left with water and food scarcity as a result of climate change are taken into account.
"When taking into account about 90 per cent of the global emissions and looking at these damages, we get a conservative but robust cost figure of ?360 billion annually," said Agnieszka Markowska, damages expert from CE Delft. "With the projected rising damages due to the impacts of climate change, this total number is likely to increase sharply if climate change is not stopped."
Three UK companies, ScottishPower, E.On and Peel Energy are bidding to build a demonstration plant for carbon capture and storage technology which could cut a coal power plant's emissions by up to 90 per cent.
However, the report notes that the damage of coal goes beyond just carbon emissions and includes water and air pollution and its health impact as well as the death of miners in extraction accidents.
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