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The coronavirus crisis has changed the way we use energy, at least for now. But could the global pandemic finally finish off coal, the most polluting of all fossil fuels? The Covid-19 crisis has been an extraordinary and terrifying time for us all, but it has been a fascinating period to cover environmental issues.

We've all enjoyed the unusually clean air and clear skies. They are the most obvious evidence that we have been living through a unique experiment in energy use. Locking hundreds of millions of us down in our homes around the world has led to an unprecedented fall in energy demand, including for electricity.

And that has, in turn, revealed something very striking about the economics of the energy industry: the underlying vulnerability of coal, the fuel that powered the creation of the modern world. Like a tide withdrawing, the Covid-19 crisis has exposed just how fragile the financial foundations of this dirtiest of all fossil fuels have become.

Some industry observers are even saying that coal may never recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Let's look at the evidence stacking up around the world. Britain's electricity grid will not have burnt any coal for 60 days - as of midnight on Wednesday 10 June. That is by far the longest period since the Industrial Revolution began more than 200 years ago. In the US, more energy was consumed from renewables than from coal for the first time ever this year, despite President Donald Trump's efforts to support the industry. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), we have seen the largest worldwide decline in coal consumption since World War Two.The key issue is what economists call the "marginal cost" of different sources of energy.

The idea is simple: once you've built your power stations, it is more expensive to run those that require fuel than ones that rely on wind, rain or sunshine. Global coal consumption may well have peaked in 2019, say many analysts, but the fuel is likely to wheeze on into the 2030s. Not an encouraging idea for anyone anxious about the world's climate. Governments don't face the same pressure to make money as companies, but they rarely want to subsidise failing industries forever - especially very polluting ones.