Politics Blog

China moves toward cleaner energy--but it's complicated

Faced with air pollution problems that have become downright crippling in major cities, China appears to be accelerating its efforts to cut back emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to this extensive report from Bloomberg News .

Among many other things, the report notes that the price of coal on world markets has been falling, calling into question the economic rationale behind U.S. coal companies' hopes of shipping large amounts of coal to China.

The report mentions plans for West Coast coal export terminals, and the widespread public resistance to them--including SSA Marine's Gateway Pacific Terminal proposed for Cherry Point.

But it's too soon to celebrate a significant turning point in the struggle to curb global greenhouse gas emissions.

Chinese coal use may not be increasing at previous rates, but it is still increasing:

"China used 3.6 billion metric tons of coal in 2012 and is projected to need 4.8 billion in 2020, Liang Jiakun, vice head of the China National Coal Association, said last year.

Another excerpt:

"The sheer size of the (Chinese) economy -- now the world’s second largest -- means that slower growth than this year’s 7.5 percent target won’t prevent electricity demand from increasing. As total power generation more than doubles by 2030, China will be adding capacity equal to the entire U.K. power grid each year with coal firing 58 percent of the system, according to a 2013 Bloomberg New Energy Finance study."

Here's an April 2014 report from McClatchy on tougher new environmental laws enacted in China.