The coal-fired power plants that provide the energy for China’s largest cities are also the reason that those cities are among the most polluted in the world. What’s China’s solution to this problem? Move the pollution to a different area.
Rather than investing in alternative energy sources that don’t pump hundreds of millions of tons of pollutants into the air, China has decided to shift its pollution factories to other regions, mostly in the northwest area of the country. This move has been condemned by Greenpeace East Asia
According to a report released by Greenpeace last Wednesday, if China builds all 50 of the coal plants that it intends to, they will release an estimated combined total of 1.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year. That’s about an eighth of what China emits already, mostly from other coal plants and factories.
The Chinese government announced the plan last September following growing concerns over the countries notoriously smoggy cities. The plan is supposed to significantly reduce coal use in China’s most populated areas by 2017.
In order to continue supplying those cities with power, China decided to build scores of coal-to-gas plants in the northwest area of the country. This would take a significant chunk of the pollution out of cities like Tianjin and the nation’s capital, Beijing. This “solution” simply moves the problem to another area and creates even more problems in the long run.
Coal-to-gas, also called gasification, is an energy creating proves that uses massive amounts of water and generates enormous amounts of carbon dioxide. Scientists across the globe have criticized the process as being even more harmful to the planet than burning coal which is already one of the biggest contributors to climate change on the planet.
Despite this, China’s state-owned power companies have been touting these proposed plants as “clean energy” and “new energy”. China is already the world’s biggest emitter of harmful greenhouse gasses, beating out the United States, and is responsible for half of the entire world’s coal consumption.
Read more about the story at The New York Times.