Report Public Eye, 2022
In the western collective imagination, coal remains associated with the shortcomings of the Industrial Revolution, and with a raggedly clothed proletariat, brooding with a sense of revolt. Devoid of the glamour and geopolitical intrigue of its cousin oil, coal continues to be perceived as an energy source belonging to the last century. It’s time to wise up! This “sunshine bundle”, buried and compressed over millions of years, has in fact never been extracted, transported and consumed in such volumes as in 2022, exceeding the historic limit of eight billion tonnes. Coal alone is responsible for almost half of the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Switzerland – with its mining groups, traders and banks – plays a central role in the global coal trade. This is revealed in this report, the result of a year of research and privileged contacts with a sector that is by nature mistrustful, because it is banished from society. However, the war in Ukraine, and the subsequent disruption in the energy markets, has reminded us of our dependence on the most polluting of fossil fuels. It’s now up to our generation to act to consign coal to the history books. This can’t happen without some sacrifices by the Swiss commodities market.