Despite grave concerns over its environmental effects, appetite for coal around the world will continue to grow through 2018, according to a report from the International Energy Agency.

Efforts in China to rein in coal dependency will push down the pace of growth to 2.3 percent a year, the report said. That’s down from yearly growth of 3.4 percent between 2007 and 2012, the report said.

“Like it or not, coal is here to stay for a long time to come,” Maria van der Hoeven, the agency’s executive director, said in a statement. “Coal is abundant and geopolitically secure, and coal-fired plants are easily integrated into existing power systems.”

“With advantages like these, it is easy to see why coal demand continues to grow,” she added.

The burning of coal, the dirtiest form of fossil fuel, has a big impact on the environment and is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

China, which last year imported the most coal of any country ever in a single year, continues to wield huge influence in global energy markets. China has already green-lighted several coal conversion projects to produce fuels and synthetic natural gas, a potentially major shift in its reliance on other fossil fuels.

“During the next five years, coal gasification will contribute more to China’s gas supply than shale gas,” said the agency’s Keisuke Sadamori.

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