China / Society

Coal burning cuts Beijingers' life span by 5 years, expert says

(ECNS) Updated: 2014-07-29 18:40

An expert at an energy forum in Beijing, citing a study, said that burning coal to provide heating for residents in the city has cut people's life expectancy by 5 years.

Wang Min, expert from Beijing University's China Center for Economic Research, gave a speech about China's energy issues at the 2014 China International Energy Forum on Tuesday morning.

Wang cited two other reports on the harmfulness of air pollution. One was a report issued by World Bank, claiming China's health costs in 2003 were estimated to account for 1.16 percent to 3.8 percent of that year's GDP. The other article made by the head of China's Ministry of Health estimated at least 350,000 to 500,000 people died earlier than expected due to air pollution.

Coal consumption accounted for 70 percent of China's energy use in the last 30 years. In 2012, China consumed 3.7 billion tons of coal, some 50 percent of the world's coal use.

Massive coal burning has produced severe air pollution in the country: 85 percent of sulfur dioxide, 67 percent of nitric oxide, and 70 percent of smoke dust were emitted from coal burning, Wang added.

According to the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, coal burning has contributed 22.4 percent to April's PM 2.5 particles.

Wang concluded that measures to tackle the issue are to reduce energy expenditures, and break the government's administrative monopoly and price control. "Energy prices can be raised to stay consistent with its scarcity, and in the meantime, promote energy saving and replacement with clean ones," Wang said.

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