Coal, the dirtiest and usually the cheapest option for energy, is now the world’s most expensive fossil fuel. Oil’s epic collapse over the past month means the global crude benchmark is now priced below the most widely traded coal contract on an energy-equivalent basis, according to Bloomberg calculations. Australia’s Newcastle coal on ICE Futures Europe settled at $66.85 a metric ton on Friday, the equivalent of $27.36 a barrel of oil. Brent futures ended at $26.98 a barrel.
While coal use in the U.S. and Europe has fallen because of cheap natural gas and renewables, as well as flat energy demand growth, consumption continues to rise in Asia, where it’s traditionally been the cheapest option for energy-hungry emerging markets. It’s also the dirtiest fossil fuel, emitting about twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas and 30% more than gasoline when burned.