China to ban all coal use in Beijing by 2020

Associated Press
File photo of a man walking past a coal plant amidst a dust storm in Lingwu, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region
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A man walks past a coal plant amidst a dust storm in Lingwu, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in this March 29, 2011 file photo. A choking smog across much of northern China threatens not just the health of local residents, but also of major coal projects globally that are still on the drawing board. Beijing's plans to tackle pollution largely target coal-fired power, which will hit already slowing demand in the world's top importer of the fuel. To match story CHINA-COAL/ REUTERS/Stringer/Files (CHINA - Tags: ENERGY ENVIRONMENT BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA

BEIJING (AP) — China's smog-plagued capital has announced plans to ban the use of coal by the end of 2020 as the country fights deadly levels of pollution, especially in major cities.

Beijing's Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau posted the plan on its website Monday, saying the city would instead prioritize electricity and natural gas for heating.

The official Xinhua News Agency said coal accounted for a quarter of Beijing's energy consumption in 2012 and 22 percent of the fine particles floating in the city's air. Motor vehicles, industrial production and general dust also contributed to pollution in the 21 million-person city.

Even with the Beijing ban, coal use is expected to soar in China. Coal-fired power and heating is a major generator of greenhouse gases and has helped turn China into the world's largest emitter of carbon and other heat-trapping gases.

Pressure is growing on China's central government to clean up the country's polluted environment, as discontent over smog and water and soil contamination increases among China's expanding middle class.

The central government recently listed environmental protection as one of the top criteria by which leaders will be judged.

In September, the government announced a prohibition on new coal-fired power plants around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

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