Coal power plants have helped build economies around the world, but the greenhouse gas emissions produced by coal plants need to be reduced quickly to help put global emissions into decline and tackle a key contributor to climate change.

Achieving this will demand innovative solutions, major financial resources and a big dose of political courage.

Many emerging and developing economies are experiencing rapid growth in demand for electricity.

Renewable power sources like solar and wind are flourishing in many regions, but their growth isn't yet quick enough to keep up with demand.

Furthermore, in emerging and developing markets, many coal industry operations have high degrees of state ownership and are major employers, so authorities face challenging tradeoffs between calls to cut emissions and the need to develop their economies and provide services for their citizens.

Today, there are around 8,500 coal power plants in operation worldwide. At more than 2,000 gigawatts of capacity they generate over a third of all electricity.

A version of this article appears in the print on October 19, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.