In the heart of China's coal country, a city bans most coal
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Taiyuan, the capital of China’s northern province of Shanxi, which is known for its coal production, has banned the sale, transport and use of most coal as it tries to cut air pollution, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Monday.
The ban took effect from Sunday, restricting companies and individuals “other than major steel and power plants” from selling, transporting or burning coal in the urban area of Taiyuan, it said.
The ban was expected to cut coal use by more than 2 million tonnes, or 90 percent of the city’s total consumption, it said.
China has ordered Beijing and nearby provinces, including Shanxi, to limit concentrations of airborne pollutants and meet key smog targets in more than two dozen cities starting this month and lasting until March. That period is when air pollution typically increases as more coal is burned to provide heat during the winter.
Coal is the biggest source of air pollution in Taiyuan in winter, Xinhua quoted Dou Lifen, head of the city’s environmental protection bureau, as saying.
The city was replacing coal-burning household heating equipment with electric and natural gas heaters, Xinhua said.
Taiyuan, which has also acted to control automobile exhaust and dust, was expected to see a reduction in the number of days of heavy air pollution to 22 days this year, 40 percent less than a year ago, it said.
China’s efforts to control pollution have often roiled the prices of steel, iron ore and coal as output is curtailed following emergency smog regulations and environmental and safety inspections.
(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)