Climate, Shlimate: China's Daily Coal Output Up 11% From Last Year

Zinger Key Points
  • China is more focused on energy security at the moment, at the expense of climate concerns.
  • An economic slowdown and Russia's war in Ukraine agitated Chinese leaders over energy supplies.

The Chinese government doesn’t appear to be overly concerned over the impact of coal pollution on the environment – in fact, the nation's daily coal output in April was up by 11% year-over-year following a directive from Beijing to ramp up production.
What Happened: Reuters reported that China mined 362.8 million tons of coal last month, an equivalent of roughly 12 million tons daily. This is down from the record level of 12.77 million tons per day set in March, but up from roughly 10 million tons per day in April 2021.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported coal production in the first four months of this year totaled 1.45 billion tons, an 11% hike from the same period one year earlier.

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Why It Happened: China is the world’s largest coal producer, and it views the fuel as crucial to its energy security. The central government in Beijing has called on the nation’s provincial governments to prioritize domestic output over imported coal, while the nation’s central bank allocated an additional $14.7 billion in loans to finance domestic coal production and storage plus the purchases by power plants.

China's push for increased coal power is designed to reverse the downward trend recorded in May 2020 when output dropped 12% year-over-year.

Why It Matters: Coal production has been cited by environmental studies as being among the main contributors to the climate change crisis. According to a data report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, several principal emissions results from coal combustion include sulfur dioxide (which contributes to acid rain and respiratory illnesses), nitrogen oxides (which contribute to smog and respiratory illnesses) and mercury and other heavy metals, (which have been linked to neurological and developmental damage in humans and animals).

China is one of the world's strongest investors in wind and solar, its leadership put a new focus on coal-fired energy after the nation experienced an economic slowdown in 2021 coupled with power shortages that disrupted factory production. The Russian war in Ukraine raised further concerns if imported gas and coal would be readily available.

"This mentality of ensuring energy security has become dominant, trumping carbon neutrality," said Li Shuo, a senior global policy adviser for Greenpeace, in an Associated Press interview. "We are moving into a relatively unfavorable time period for climate action in China.

Photo by stafichukanatoly / Pixabay

Posted In: GovernmentNewsChinaclimate changecoalenergy