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Clean coal can cut rural emissions

China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-19 07:47

Clean coal can cut rural emissions

Coal is loaded for railway transportation in Tongliao, Inner Mongolia autonomous region. [Photo/Xinhua]

PROMOTING THE USE OF clean coal in heating and cooking in villages is a practical way to control air pollution. But the government must provide subsidies to encourage farmers to replace the cheaper bulk coal with clean coal, and make it easier for farmers to buy clean coal near their homes, commented on Wednesday:

The environmental protection bureau in North China's Shanxi province, a main coal producing region, recently conducted an investigation into the serious air pollution in Linfen city, and found sulfur dioxide is the main air-borne pollutant, which is largely produced by local farmers' burning bulk coal for their winter heating.

The farmers have used bulk coal to heat their homes for generations. And while China is rich in coal resources, it is relatively poor in oil and natural gas resources. It is also unrealistic to supply clean energy in a short time over such a large rural area. Therefore, it is impractical to end coal consumption completely in a bid to reduce the air pollution.

However, clean coal could be used, which is even more environmentally friendly than natural gas, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Although the Linfen government has said it will do so, it should draw lessons from the failure of clean coal promotion in Hebei and Shandong provinces.

The major obstacle is the high price of clean coal. Government subsidies are necessary. But in poor areas, the government subsidy is generally too low to fill the price gap between bulk coal and clean coal, so the farmers will continue to use bulk coal.

There is also a problem with the accessibility of clean coal. According to the rule in many places, farmers must report the quantity of clean coal they need for a whole winter to the villager committee before a deadline, and the government will transport the coal to the village, once for a year.

As many farmers work as migrant workers in cities, they usually miss the deadline, and it is much more convenient for them to buy bulk coal from roadside sellers in Shanxi.

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