Archive for 2.3 Coal and the Environment

Yunnan Landslide Highlights the Devastation Wrought by Coal Mining

A Yunnan villager describes how the encroachment of coal mining has all but destroyed his village and caused almost irreparable environmental damage. It took the local authorities less than two days to decide that the landslide which killed 46 people in a remote Yunnan village on 11 January 2013 was a “natural disaster.”  None of the surviving villagers were convinced by this hasty conclusion however and 72 of them signed an open letter to the State Council in Beijing asking for a proper investigation that focused specifically on the role played by the nearby Gaopo coal mine. Many villagers believed the landslide had been caused by an explosion at the mine.

2 Coal, 2.3 Coal and the Environment

Thirsty Coal, A Water Crisis Exacerbated by China’s New Mega Coal Power Bases

As China’s economy grows, its thirst for energy – nearly 70% of which now comes from coal – worsens. The world’s second largest economy will construct 16 large-scale coal power bases, predominantly in western areas of the country over the duration of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15). According to the plan, in 2015, the following bases: Shendong, Mengdong, Jinbei, Jinzhong, Jindong, Ningdong, and Shaanbei, most of which are situated in Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Ningxia, will contribute a total coal output of 2.2 billion tons, contributing to 56% of China’s annual coal output for 2015 (3.9 billion tons).

2 Coal, 2.3 Coal and the Environment

The True Cost of Coal in China: Coal Dust Storms: Toxic Wind

Dust is not the only makeup of China’s infamous sandstorms, which also contain toxic pollutants from coal combustion. Sandstorms can disperse coal ash – containing arsenic, selenium and lead – far from their origin in coal-industry areas to eastern China, posing health and environmental threats to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.

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 in China: Air Pollution and Public Health

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

On the Ecological Reconstruction of the Coal Mining Area Based on the Sustainable Development

The coal is the most important disposable energy in our country. Coal resources play a strategic role in our country’s economic and social development, but there are a series of ecological environment problems about the mining and the utilization of coal resources. These problems in the coal mining area have already become an obstacle to the sustainable development and also a major hidden danger to the regional ecological security. On the analysis of ubiquitous problems of the ecological environment in the coal mining area and supported by the theory of the sustainable ecological development, the thesis penetrates the characteristics and laws of the mine ecosystem succession and reconstructs the mine ecological industrial chain. To change the traditional thoughts of “development- pollution- governance”, new ideas and ways of the sustainable development of the coal mining area have been put forward in order to achieve the harmonious development of economy, society and environment.

2 Coal, 2.3 Coal and the Environment

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

Methane Emissions from Abandoned Coal Mines in China

This study is based on a detailed inventory of methane emissions from abandoned coal mines in China. The initial data collection efforts for this study focused on the eastern piedmont of the Taihang mountains in the coal-bearing region of Shanxi Province, China. Chinese government sources state that methane emissions associated with coal production were 19 billion m3 in 2006, whereas the total methane emissions from all coal mine sources in China are estimated to contribute 730 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent to the atmosphere each year. Chinese coal production has risen from 2.380 billion tonnes in 2006 to 2.716 billion tonnes in 2008. While there are activities to capture and destroy methane from active coal mines and pre-mine drainage funded through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), through direct support from external organizations and agencies and through the introduction of regulations, there is dearth of information on emissions from abandoned mines and no known projects to capture and destroy the methane being emitted from this source. The reasons for this are numerous: lack of empirical data on methane being generated, ownership issues and a lack of focus on abandoned mine methane due to the range of opportunities available at active mines—under the CDM, for instance, there is currently no approved methodology for abandoned mine methane projects. This study is designed to help redress the lack of knowledge of, and focus on, abandoned mines by producing a systematic inventory of abandoned mine methane emissions in China, with an initial focus on the coal bearing regions of Shanxi Province. There is believed to be 260 billion tonnes of coal in Shanxi Province, and the annual coal production was 0.66 billion tonnes in 2008 (representing nearly one quarter of the China total) from 2800 separate mines. The life time of an average local mine is typically 20 years.

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