The International Energy Agency said that by 2017, coal consumption will come close to oil consumption as a leading energy source.
"Coal's share of the global energy mix continues to grow each year, and if no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade," IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in a statement.
In its medium-term coal market report, the IEA said it expected coal use to increase in all countries except the United States. There, the agency said, an abundant supply of natural gas will push coal usage down.
The IEA stated this week that, with the right policies in place, national governments and energy companies can offset some of the environmental damage from open-pit coal mines by reshaping the surrounding landscape.
China and India are expected to lead in terms of coal consumption growth during the next five years.
"In fact, the world will burn around 1.2 billion more ton of coal per year by 2017 compared to today, equivalent to the current coal consumption of Russia and the United States combined," said van der Hoeven.