Archive for 2 Coal

The True Cost of Coal: An Investigation into Coal Ash in China

This report, following in the footsteps of The True Cost of Coal, focuses on a long-ignored type of coal pollution. In 2009 alone, China generated at least 375 million tons of coal ash – more than twice the amount of urban domestic waste produced in the same time period. Coal ash is also toxic, containing large quantities of pollutants such as heavy metals and radioactive substances, which pose huge threats to the environment and public health.

2 Coal, 2.3 Coal and the Environment

The True Cost of Coal in China: Air Pollution and Public Health (summary)

Coal combustion emissions pose a significant threat to public health, causing an estimated 500,000 premature deaths in 2008. Its related diseases include respiratory disease, cancer, and birth defects, all of which are very much part of the real cost of China’s over-reliance on cheap coal.

2 Coal, 2.3 Coal and the Environment

The True Cost of Coal (full report)

China is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of coal. The country’s rocketing economic growth is heavily dependent on it, with more than 70 per cent of its energy needs coming from coal (the global average is around 30 per cent). However, this reliance on coal comes with heavy environmental and social costs. Every step in the process of using coal, from mining through to combustion, is wreaking severe damage to China’s environment. Of most concern is climate change, primarily caused by burning fossil fuels such as coal. This is the second edition of this report.

2 Coal, 2.3 Coal and the Environment

Polluting Power: Ranking China’s Power Companies

China’s electricity sector is dominated by large-scale power companies. This report ranks these power companies according to their greenhouse polluting power and recommends that China’s electricity sector needs to radically improve energy efficiency and boost renewable energy share to help the nation tackle climate change.

2 Coal, 2.3 Coal and the Environment

Bone and Blood: The Price of Coal in China

The first section of the report focuses on the core dilemma faced by the government: increase production or improve safety. It examines the massive safety deficit that exists in the mining industry and examines the government’s attempts to narrow that deficit. The report suggests that the only effective way to protect the lives and rights of miners is to develop democratically elected and truly representative workers’ organizations that can stand up to the currently overwhelming power of management and safeguard working conditions at the coalface. The second section of the report focuses on the coal mine accident compensation system and the post-accident management and social damage-limitation methods used by local governments. The report uses telephone interviews with the families of coal mine accident victims and industry insiders to reveal the human face of coal mine tragedies. The report concludes with policy proposals and recommendations aimed at reducing the number of coal mine accidents, with a focus on the urgent need to give workers a voice and role in the safety monitoring and supervision process.

2 Coal, 2.4 Coal and Workers

Tensions of Transition: the Safety Problems of the Chinese Coal Industry

This study examines the safety problems of the underground coal mining industry in China. It situates these problems in the wider context of sustainable development both for China and globally. Chinese mines have the highest accident rate in the world. However, these accidents are caused by factors that are common to coal mining elsewhere in the world such as gas and coal dust explosions, flooding, falls of ground and machinery accidents. After analysing the dominant role of coal in the Chinese energy economy, the study looks at the accident and ill health statistics that are publicly available. It notes that Chinese government policy on mine safety and compensation is being re-focused on a more intensive problem-solving approach. The tragedies faced by mining communities are huge in their human and economic dimensions. They are now firmly in the international public domain, creating a powerful incentive to act. There is a growing willingness to support Chinese initiatives to improve mine safety and health on the part of international bodies. The contemporary international practice in health and safety, especially in the coal industry, is analysed. It shows that many, but not all, of the problems faced in China have been solve elsewhere. Finally, after examining the specific situation of the small mine sector, where the accident rate is highest, some proposals are made for resolving the safety problems more effectively. These proposals, the study declares, should be implemented within the context of Chinese and global sustainable development.

2 Coal, 2.4 Coal and Workers

I am Proud of my Chinese Colleagues

I am very proud of my Chinese colleagues and the other foreign advisers working to reduce coal mine accidents among China’s five million miners. The number of fatal accidents in coal mines has fallen from a peak of 6,995 in 2002 to a provisional figure for 2008 of around 3,200. This means that thousands more families have their men folk alive, earning a wage which often supports all three generations of a family.

2 Coal, 2.4 Coal and Workers

Impact of WTO Entry on the International Trade of Coal

This article reviews the Chinese international coal trade activity in recent years, with a focus on the steam coal market. It then goes on to summarize market factors which will gain importance as China is integrated into the WTO. It examines the current state of information available at the time of writing, in order to analyze China’s practices in the international steam coal sector. It ends with speculation on “the way forward” for Chinese international coal trade. Written 10 years ago, as China was entering the WTO, this article offers important background to understanding the current situation in the Chinese coal sector, and its impact on global coal trade.

2 Coal

How the People’s Republic of China Is Pursuing Energy Efficiency Initiatives: A Case Study

The Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been paying increasing attention to enhancing energy efficiency, especially in the wake of rapid expansion of power generating capacity in recent years. The existing even-load power generation scheduling regime, however, fails to contribute toward the objective of energy efficiency in power generation and is now regarded as a major cause of energy inefficiency and environmental problems. Since early 2007, the government has adopted unprecedented actions to reform the scheduling rule and has coupled it with equally strong actions to phase out inefficient power generating units. The initial outcomes indicate that the policy has been effective and successful. Over 500 inefficient small thermal generating units, with the combined generating capacity of 14.4 gigawatts, were decommissioned during the first year of implementation. This has resulted in significant reduction in coal consumption, greenhouse gas, and other pollutant emissions, and impressive improvement in energy efficiency. Why is the policy successful and effective? What challenges lie ahead during further implementation? What lessons can one draw from the experience in the PRC? This paper attempts to address these questions, focusing on the key concern of implementation. Any program, no matter how meticulously designed, amounts to nothing if not implemented carefully. (note: this article is actually more suited to the section on energy efficiciency, and will also be included in this section. However, it is also included here, as it specifically relates to the coal sector, and has been highlighted as being regionally significant by the Asian Development Bank)

2 Coal

The Chinese Coal Industry in an Energy Security and Carbon-Constrained World, a seminar with Kevin Jianjun Tu, Mark Jaccard, David Burwell

China currently consumes almost half of global coal output, and relies on indigenous coal for about 80 percent of its electricity generation. While the use of coal has greatly benefited China in terms of economic growth and energy security, it has created enormous environmental and social challenges, from land subsidence and regional water shortages to global issues concerning air quality and greenhouse gas emissions. Carnegie hosted Kevin Tu, senior associate at Carnegie’s Energy & Climate Program, and Mark Jaccard, professor at Simon Fraser University, in a discussion on how the United States and China could work together on coal issues in order to move the climate agenda forward. Carnegie’s David Burwell moderated.

2 Coal