The nation will launch a five-year action plan to make the industrial use of coal cleaner and more efficient amid a renewed debate on air pollution that has been sparked by a documentary on smog.
The industrial sector, excluding power generators, aims to cut coal use by more than 160 million metric tons by 2020, an official at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said. Major industries, including those in the coking, coal chemical, industrial boiler and industrial furnace sectors, burned 1.6 billion tons of coal in 2012, accounting for 46 percent of China’s total consumption. The electricity industry consumed 1.87 billion tons of coal that year.
Over the weekend, fossil fuels, particularly coal, emerged again as a major culprit in the nation’s smog plague.
A former Chinese celebrity TV presenter, Chai Jing, released a self-funded documentary titled Under the Dome on Feb 28, which set off intense discussion on China’s social media. As of March 2, it had been viewed more than 28.8 million times on video site Youku.
Coal consumption fell last year for the first time in 14 years, sliding 2.9 percent year-on-year to 3.51 billion tons, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
“Coal utilization in China’s industrial sector remains very inefficient, and it is a key area for air pollution prevention efforts,” said a draft version of the action plan.
The plan targets a reduction in emissions from such sources as smoke dust, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by 1 million tons, 1.2 million tons and 800,000 tons, respectively, by 2020.
The action plan directs local industrial and fiscal authorities of coal-guzzling cities to draw up implementation plans and submit those plans to the MIIT by the end of September.
Provinces are required to report on the progress of the implementation plans from 2016 and the results will be sent to the MIIT and the Ministry of Finance.
Heavily polluted northern province Shanxi on March 2 unveiled its five-year energy development strategic plan, which said the province will limit its energy use to 260 million tons of standard coal equivalent.
On the national level, the government will broaden financing channels for the more efficient use of energy and facilitate growth of specialized energy-conservation companies by offering technical and financial support to them, said the draft plan.
The nation will encourage financial institutions to offer “green credit” to projects that fall under the auspices of the action plan and channel private capital into equity funds, industry funds and other such instruments to support those projects.