New figures show a steadily rising use of coal around the world.
The figures were in a report from the Worldwatch Institute in Washington DC and echo findings by the World Energy Agency in Paris.
The report shows global consumption of coal increased by 5.4% in 2011, more than twice the growth rate of natural gas.
Coal produced 28% of the world's primary energy mix - the highest level since 1971.
The report said China accounted for nearly half of all coal use in 2011. The United States was second, despite its coal use actually falling in favour of cheap shale gas.
India surpassed the European Union to take third spot.