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China to Cap Coal Use in 2020

China coalChina plans to set a cap on coal consumption in 2020 as part of its efforts to achieve a recently announced goal of having carbon dioxide emissions peak by 2030.

According to the New York Times, the State Council, China’s cabinet, released details of an energy strategy last week that includes capping coal consumption at 4.2 billion tons in 2020 and having coal be no more than 62 percent of the primary energy mix by that year. Last year, China consumed 3.61 billion tons of coal, and coal made up 66 percent of the primary energy mix.

China is the biggest emitter of greenhouses gases in the world, and uses as much coal each year as the rest of the world combined.

In theory, coal consumption might increase beyond 2020, but some researchers say economic trends show the rate of growth in coal use slowing in coming years and peaking about 2020. That means the State Council’s timeline is consistent with the findings of those researchers. The numbers announced at the meeting might be further formalized in China’s next five-year plan, whose details will be released around March 2015.

A week after China announced it will peak CO2 emissions by 2030 or sooner, Tsinghua University released a study stating that China can reduce carbon and air pollution and grow its economy.

Analysts for Greenpeace East Asia said the amount of coal consumed in the first nine months of 2014 might actually have dropped by 1 to 2 percent compared with the same period last year, based on data from a national coal industry association.

Photo Credit: China coal via Shutterstock

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