China bans some coal burning and dirty coal imports in an effort to reduce super smog that has enveloped some Chinese cities such as Beijing. New regulations are to go into effect January 1st 2015, which restricts the burning of coal that has an ash content greater than 16% and sulphur content about 1% in many cities with high populations. That ban effects Chinese cities in the southern Pearl River Delta, the eastern Yangtze River Delta and three northern cities including Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei. The Chinese government is also putting restrictions on domestic coal with a heating value of less than 3,940 kcal/kg, ash content of more than 40 percent and sulphur of 3 percent, which cannot be moved more than 600 kilometres from the production site.
China is also investing vast amounts of money into clean energy, spending $56.3 Billion USD on wind, solar and other renewable projects in 2013, which is more than all Europe.
Coal Kills—the World Health Organization (WHO), estimated that poor air quality contributed to 1.2 million deaths in China in 2010, which is 40% of the global total.
China recently banned the burning of coal in Beijing’s six central districts, with plans to extend the ban to the rest of the city by 2016, according to an article at New Scientist.
Australia exports about 50 million tons of coal each year to China. The new ban on the dirty coal that has a high ash or sulfur content will reduce Australian coal exports by 40%, which According theguardian would cost the mining companies $1.5 billion dollars.
Coal is an easy target to ban since other sources of energy are available such as natural gas. The long term target for China are cars and other fossil fuel burning vehicles, which are worse causes of air pollution, but replacing them with Electric Vehicles is going to take some time.
The Chinese ban on dirty coal may be bad news for the Australian coal industry but it is potentially great news for the renewable energy sector.
The Australian coal companies also claim that China’s new rules will not have significant impact even though 80 percent of the 54 million tons of thermal coal they export to China in 2013 exceeded the new ash limit, because other buyers can be found or they can wash their coal.
Nevertheless it seems it would be prudent for the Australian government to start taking steps now to become less dependent of fossil fuels and start investing more heavily on renewable energy. There are are also major fossil fuel divestment movements taking place at nearly every university on the planet.
CNN Video about Beijing Terrible Air Quality
EV of the Year Judge, independent green journalist, photographer, author and sustainability activist that has published over 1000 articles. Mr Burridge’s travels have taken him to over 30 countries and 300+ major cities. He is originally from the USA, but has been residing in Australia for the last seven years. Connect to Ken Burridge on: Twitter, facebook, Google+, Linked in or website