China has announced plans to shut down its coal-fired power plants in an attempt to reduce air pollution, Financial Times reports.
The multi-billion dollar effort aims to replace coal-fired plants with natural gas-fuelled power stations by the end of next year. Beijing’s ambitious plans to become coal-free by 2015 were announced alongside a clamp-down on construction site dust and hopes to raise standards for vehicle emissions.
Greenpeace climate pollution campaigner, Zhou Rong, told the FT: “China’s air pollution is not a one-city problem, but a regional problem. If Beijing fixes its pollution problem but the neighboring areas continue to pollute, then it is a big problem”. Beijing draws most of its electricity from coal-powered stations in neighboring Hebei province.
The efforts come amid a growing public discontentment on Beijing’s lack of enforcement of regulations and a worsening smog problem. According to the FT, Beijing is one of the world’s dirtiest capital with levels of hazardous small particulate matter, or PM 2.5, spiking up. Public distrust is also high because of the government’s lack of transparency in pollution data.