In the 16th century, England’s forests were starting to look bare.
You see, England used wood for pretty much everything. It was a key material in building houses and ships, and also in making books. And this was a time of naval expansion after discovering the US and of more books aided by the invention of the movable type.
But wood was also widely used for heating.
All this coupled with population growth meant that England was running out of trees, and wood prices went through the roof.
With an energy crisis on their hands, England started looking for alternatives.
Coal had some advantages. There was lots of it, and it was cheap. There were also some disadvantages. It released fumes, and it was dirty.
But higher wood prices pushed England to make the switch and by the end of the 17th century the country had already turned to coal for energy.
In the words of Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis:
‘Global capital is fleeing fossil fuels, starting with throwing thermal coal under the bus.’
The demand for coal is shrinking…at a time when renewables are getting cheaper.