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China Cuts Coal Consumption, Cracks Down on Ecological Damage

Data for the first half of 2015 indicate that coal consumption in China may be peaking “much earlier than anticipated in official government statements,” according to a report late last month on The Energy Collective.

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“These are not declines in the rate of growth, but absolute declines in the amount of coal consumed in power generation as well as in energy-intensive industries like steel and cement production,” Mathews and Hao write. “If continued, this would be a ‘Great Reversal’ of China’s recent dominant role in consumption of dirty fossil fuels and production of greenhouse gases.”

The country is also introducing a suite of new measures to make wider use of environmental taxes and hold officials accountable for pollution and ecological damage. “Such administrative measures are sometimes even more powerful in China than the law,” the authors note.

“Insofar as China’s coal boom was fuelled in part by graft and corruption, it appears that this, too, is now being curbed,” they add. The country’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is investigating a retired vice-minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Zhang Lijun, for influence peddling, and three officials who previously reported to Zhang are being held for questioning.