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Coal’s temporary rise won’t hinder China’s step to fight climate change: expert

By Chen Lidan (People's Daily Online)    16:36, June 27, 2017

The rebound in China’s coal mining and consumption this year is temporary and will not have significant implications for China’s commitment to emissions reduction targets over the long run, said an environmental expert.

Calling it “a setback to efforts to rein in climate change emissions,” the Associated Press reported on June 26 that the top three coal users in the world—China, the United States, and India—have boosted coal mining in 2017.

Official data shows China’s coal production increased by 12.1 percent in May, the third consecutive month of recovery this year, as miners’ ramp up output to meet the strong summer demand. Accordingly, major industrial sectors posted a 3.4 percent growth in consumption in the first four months.

The rebound is being largely driven by the more robust activities in real estate and infrastructure while the domestic and global economy is gaining momentum, explained Dr. Yang Fuqiang from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an international environmental non-profit organization.

If the overall consumption pattern is broken down, the amount of coal burned by building and residential sectors is still on the decline, a trend which started several years ago, added Dr. Yang, who serves as the China Program Senior Advisor on Energy, Environment, and Climate Change at NRDC.

The figure released by China’s National Statistics Bureau in February indicates that China’s coal production and consumption in 2016 fell for three consecutive years since 2014. Dr. Yang told People’s Daily Online that the recent recovery is temporary and China is still able to fulfill its commitment to emissions reduction targets.

“China should and will boost its economic growth by taking low-carbon measures, such as energy efficiency improvement, renewable energy, and clean coal technology. The International Energy Agency assessment shows that China is among the best in terms of energy efficiency and it has huge potential to do better.” Dr. Yang said.

The global coal demand will be on track to drop in the next few years and the overall consumption might reach its peak by around 2025. Under the current pro-clean energy policies, China’s appetite for coal will stabilize in the next 20 years, with only the chemical industry demanding more coal, the British energy company BP predicted.

As major economies take concrete actions to reduce their coal use due to concerns over climate change and air pollution, developing countries face a tricky coal conundrum, warned a world energy outlook analysis by the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on June 26.

It is a challenging time for developing countries and emerging markets, particularly for those in the Asia-Pacific region, to reduce their appetite for coal and support global efforts, because of its easy availability, the report noted. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Chen Lidan, Bianji)

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