The report by the International Energy Agency, based in Paris, predicts coal demand will increase in every region of the world except in the United States, where coal is being supplanted by shale gas.
"Thanks to abundant supplies and insatiable demand for power from emerging markets, coal met nearly half of the rise in global energy demand during the first decade of the 21st Century," IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in an agency release Monday.
That trend is likely to continue, she said.
"In fact, the world will burn around 1.2 billion more tons of coal per year by 2017 compared to today -- equivalent to the current coal consumption of Russia and the United States combined."
China will surpass the rest of the world in coal demand during that time period, the report predicted, while India will become the largest coal importer and second-largest consumer, overtaking the United States.
"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," van der Hoeven said.