A small victory for mother earth was announced this week – and oxygen-starved as we are, we'll take what we can get.
The news is that Shenhua Group, the state-owned mining and energy company, has completed its upgrades that will dramatically decrease coal-burning in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.
So does that mean more blue skies, sunshine and good times? Well, maybe. But when the environment is concerned, things aren’t always that simple.
CEOs down at Shenhua Group love cruising around in their Shenhua blimp
Shenhua Group’s new upgrades mean the annual emission of dust, SO2 (sulfur dioxide) and NOx (nitrogen oxide) in the north will go down by 84 percent, 71 percent and 83 percent respectively. The upgrades have taken 3 years and have cost the company 2.35 billion yuan. However, when you’re sitting in a gas chamber it’s hard to empathize with a state-owned coal-power house’s financial plight.
Shenhua group is China’s largest producer of energy, and also the largest coal-producing company in the world (a world record that we would gladly do without, thank you). Their decrease in carbon emissions hopes to bring down emissions to similarly low levels throughout China by the end of 2020.
So this comes as good news, with lower carbon emissions and dust let off into the air, it might mean winters with a significantly lower level of smog. According to a report by China Daily and reported in several other international publications, the air quality in Beijing improved by 5-6 percent between 2014 to 2015, despite all those nasty red-alerts we had over Christmas (a CCP-styled white Christmas that Bing Crosby never got to experience).
CCP's 2015 Christmas gift: AQI 500+
However even if action has been taken towards coal-fire plants, Shenhua Group as a slew of other carbon-emitting schemes to account for too. Schemes they haven’t spoken that much about. The coal-to-liquid projects, for example, turn coal into a liquefied coal-version of fossil fuel that emits twice as much pollution as gasoline. In November 2010, it was reported by Bloomberg that Shenhua Group may more than quadruple its coal-to-liquid output to 3 million metric tons annually by 2015. In the new upgrades, these projects haven’t been addressed.
Also the China Daily talks about China increasing their non-fossil fuel energy to 20 percent, but admits that the rest will still need to come from oil, gas and surprise, surprise…more coal.
So though these changes are a step in the right direction and it might mean some more of those gloriously blue Beijing days. But don’t throw away that LaserEgg just yet. Some more white Christmases may wait for us in the future...and we're not talking about the snow.
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