(EnergyAsia, June 14 2013, Friday) — Coal made a big comeback last year as its share in the global energy mix reached 29.9%, its highest level since 1970, said BP.

Reflecting the world’s declining concern with global warming, its consumption of coal, the leading source of greenhouse gases, grew by 2.5%, ahead of oil’s 0.9% increase and natural gas’s 2.2%.

What saved the environment from a bigger dose of greenhouse gases was the slowdown in the world economy which ensured that coal consumption growth fell well below the recent 10-year average of 4.4%, said BP in its latest annual Statistical Review of World Energy.

“Consumption outside the OECD rose by a below-average 5.4%. Chinese consumption growth was a below-average 6.1%, but China still accounted for all of the net growth in global coal consumption, and China accounted for more than half of global coal consumption for the first time,” said BP.

“OECD consumption declined by 4.2% with losses in the US (-11.9%) offsetting increases in Europe and Japan. EU consumption grew for a third consecutive year.”

To keep up with demand, global coal production rose by 2% to 86.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent, with growth in China (3.5%) and Indonesia (9%) offsetting a steep 7.5% decline in the US. The Asia Pacific region now accounts for more than two-thirds of global output.

BP said the world had proved reserves of coal to meet 109 years of global production, by far the largest reserves-to-production ratio for any fossil fuel. The US holds the largest individual reserves, followed by Russia and China.