The aim of this paper is to specify the role of coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) in the formation of global emissions/harmful pollutants and to discuss the benefits of current and future technologies to minimize environmental damage. In this regard, pollutant/emission reduction technologies from CFPPs are discussed in detail by considering the environmental and global warming aspects. Pollutant gases from CFPPs around the globe have always been the most important source of environmental concern in societies. In particular, due to the burning of the coal without taking the necessary precautions, the nitrogen in the coal and combustion air and the combustible sulfur components in the coal content are oxidized and released to the atmosphere as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx). Another pollutant from power plants is carbon monoxide (CO). CO is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that can remain in the atmosphere for a long time. In addition, significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) occur by virtue of the combustion of coal. CO2 emission is in the class of greenhouse gases causing global warming. As a result of this study, the factors causing the formation of harmful pollutants in CFPPs are determined and present and potential suggestions are provided for the environmental sustainability of such facilities. (c) 2020 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.