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Clear Chinese Skies Could Kill Coal


While the West is increasingly rejecting coal in favor of other, cleaner energy sources, coal producers have taken some solace in the steadily growing demand for their product in the developing world. But China, the country that burns nearly half of the world’s coal, is living under a toxic haze, and its efforts to clear its skies could complete the swing against the sooty energy source. Reuters reports:

“China is kicking its coal addiction,” said Chen Yafei, vice-director at the China Coal Research Institute. “With slower economic growth and a big push towards gas and renewables, the golden decade for coal is over.” […]

“The pollution question in China is huge so they will shift more towards gas for transportation and in power, no matter how high the price is,” Ian Taylor, chief executive of Swiss trading house Vitol, told Reuters.

China is working towards developing its shale gas reserves—far and away the largest in the world—but is having trouble replicating, or even imitating at any scale the success the US has enjoyed in recent years. If it wants to clear its skies, Beijing will have to reduce its reliance on coal, but it will also need to find suitable replacements. China is racing to find those replacements, because the costs of inaction are already mounting.

It’s been a very bad year for Old King Coal.

[Man wearing a mask in Beijing image courtesy of Getty]

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  • Pete

    So China is kicking the coal habit.
    We’ll see. That’s something that’s easier said than done.

    • Jacksonian_Libertarian

      I agree, China’s polution problem has been around for a long time, and nothing has been done. So if the past is any indication of the future, what we are hearing is just more lip service, without any action to back up all the talk.

  • Andrew Allison

    Given that coal appears to be the most abundant fossil fuel on the planet, the challenging geology, and the fact that shale is a finite resource, wouldn’t it make sense to invest at least a little in clean coal technology in China, and in the USA (which contains several centuries worth)?

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