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March 1, 2017

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Coal consumption decreases for 3rd straight year

CHINA’S world-leading coal consumption fell for the third straight year in 2016, government data showed yesterday, as the world’s second-biggest economy struggles to break its addiction to the heavily polluting fuel.

Coal consumption declined by 4.7 percent annually in 2016, and the share of coal in the country’s energy mix slipped to 62 percent, down 2 percentage points year on year, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a report.

Overall coal production also fell, down 9 percent to 3.41 billion tons in 2016.

The data suggest that “coal consumption probably peaked around 2014,” according to a statement from environmental group China Dialogue.

It added: “There is still some concern about a ‘rebound’ in coal demand if China continues to stimulate its economy by infrastructure investment.”

The new data suggest that China’s CO2 emissions may decrease by as much as 1 percent in 2017, Greenpeace said in a statement, adding that it would be the “fourth year in a row of either zero growth or a decline.”

“These trends give some hope that the global peak in emissions might well be within reach, but only if all major emitters break free from fossil fuels and reduce emissions,” said the organization’s policy adviser Li Shuo, warning that the outcome would depend on cooperation from the United States under President Donald Trump.

The billionaire politician has said he will roll back American environmental regulations aimed at curbing climate change.

Meanwhile, “China is ploughing money into renewables and reining in its addiction to coal,” Li said.

In December, Beijing said it would reduce its annual coal production capacity by 800 million tons as it tries to tackle unsafe and inefficient mines and reduce pollution.

The government has vowed to reduce consumption of polluting energy sources, and the move also has an economic logic.

Many of the country’s giant state-owned coal mining companies are now unviable and plagued by overcapacity, leading the government to curb output.


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