China’s coal rush faces conundrum

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Publication - 2013-12-02
China is highly dependent on coal as the primary source of energy and accounts for around 70% of the country’s total primary energy consumption. According to the ‘China Energy Statistical Yearbook 2012’, China consumed over 3.43 billion tons of coal in 2011, half of which was burned by the power sector.

China is highly dependent on coal as the primary source of energy and accounts for around 70% of the country’s total primary energy consumption. According to the ‘China Energy Statistical Yearbook 2012’, China consumed over 3.43 billion tons of coal in 2011, half of which was burned by the power sector.

China is the world’s largest consumer of coal by a wide margin. BP Statistical Review of World’s Energy estimates that China burned 50.2% of all the coal consumed in the world in 2012. The second biggest coal consumer, the United States consumed over 11.7%, followed by India consuming 8%.

Energy efficiency and economic development policies can strongly influence how much energy growth is needed to fuel economic growth, and how the increased energy demand is met. Many believe that China’s coal demand will keep on rising to feed the world’s second biggest economy, and Beijing has approved plans for massive expansion of coal plants in the country’s coal-rich northwestern areas.

However, Greenpeace East Asia believes two factors may constrain China’s coal rush and cool the country’s demand for coal: frequent air pollution crises which have triggered public outcry for curbing coal burning, and the shrinking water resources in northwestern China.

Download the media briefing below:

China coal expansion

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