It isn't just pandas the World Wildlife Fund is hugging. In a major policy shift, the group is cautiously embracing a longtime foe of the greens: King Coal. Its report, "Climate Solutions: WWF's Vision for 2050," maps out a plan for doubling global energy consumption while slashing greenhouse-gas emissions by 60 percent—the minimum necessary to limit global warming to 2 degrees C. Amid the usual call for renewables, WWF envisions coal delivering 20 percent of global energy needs in 2050.
Why coal? Because "there is no silver bullet" to stop global warming, says Liam Salter, head of WWF's climate-change program in Hong Kong. Nor is it practical to rule out the dirty but abundant fossil fuel. The report envisions "a clearly defined, though limited, role for coal in a climate-friendly economy." Coal would fire highly efficient (and still experimental) power plants that store CO2 underground. Conservation would help bridge the gap between now and 2030, when the new coal plants will be ready.