IT IS a country at war with air pollution, and now China has taken drastic action to clean up its capital city.
The pollution has sparked growing health concerns about air quality with calls for the government to do something about it.
Today, Beijing announced it will stop using coal and its related products, and close coal-fired power plants and other coal facilities by 2020 in six of its capital districts.
But the problem is at “hazardous” levels in the capital Beijing, with industry, energy use and transport largely to blame.
Coal makes up one-quarter of the city’s total energy consumption, according to Xinhua news agency
The US embassy pollution index in Beijing produces an Air Quality Index, which measures six pollutants.
According to the index, which follows US Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, an air quality level of more than 100 is “unhealthy for sensitive groups”.
More than 150 is “unhealthy”, and more than 300 is considered “hazardous”, the index reveals.
At one point last year Beijing’s smog was measured at more than 750.
The Minerals Council of Australia said Beijing was simply moving its coal-fired electricity generation, not banning or stopping it.
According to the council’s executive director of coal, Greg Evans, Beijing’s decision had been flagged for some time.
“It reflects Chinese policy to replace existing coal-fired plants with new, larger, more efficient coal-fired plants in provinces further west and transmit electricity from these plants to the coastal provinces via ultra-high-voltage transmission lines,” he said in a statement provided to news.com.au.
“The transmission lines from the northwest will transmit coal-fired generation; hence, it just moves coal demand from the coast to the interior” it said in a press release last year.
According to the Minerals Council, modern coal-fired power stations have cut carbon emissions by 30 per cent and the industry supports 200,000 jobs and generates $40 billion in exports.
Beijing’s move is being seen as a positive one by the Clean Energy Council which said there was a global trend for countries to use and invest in greener forms of energy.
Clean Energy Council acting chief executive Kane Thornton said China was moving along with the strong global trend towards less carbon-intensive forms of energy.
“China is really leading the world in deploying renewable energy and installing record levels of wind and solar power,” he said.
“More than 140 countries now have a renewable energy target in place, which has resulted in one-fifth of the world’s power production now coming from renewable sources.”"
End of culled article from News.com.au article by Debra Killalea.