China sets targets for emissions reduction

In this photo taken on Nov 20, coal miners exit a mine after their shift underground at Datong, China.
In this photo taken on Nov 20, coal miners exit a mine after their shift underground at Datong, China.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING • China will cut emissions of major pollutants in the power sector by 60 per cent by 2020, the Cabinet announced on Wednesday, after world leaders met in Paris to address climate change.

China will also reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power generation by 180 million tonnes by 2020, according to a statement on the official government website.

It did not give comparison figures but said the cuts would be made through efficiency gains.

Researchers at Chinese government-backed think-tanks said last month that coal consumption by power stations in China would probably peak by 2020. A European Union official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday's announcement seemed to relate more to air pollutants than greenhouse gas emissions.

China's capital, Beijing, suffered choking pollution this week, triggering an "orange" alert, the second-highest level, closing highways, halting or suspending construction and prompting a warning to residents to stay indoors. The hazardous air, which cleared on Wednesday, underscores the challenge facing the government as it battles pollution caused by the coal-burning power industry and raises questions about its ability to clean up its economy.

Reducing coal use and promoting cleaner forms of energy are set to play a crucial role in China's pledges to take its greenhouse gas emissions to a peak by around 2030. Beijing has pledged to reduce the share of coal in total energy consumption to 60 per cent by the end of the decade. It has banned the use of low-grade coal.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2015, with the headline 'China sets targets for emissions reduction'. Print Edition | Subscribe