Beijing and the surrounding area will ban coal by the end of 2020, the official Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

coal plant China Beijing.

Image via NPR.

It’s not much, but it’s a start – about 1% of the Chinese population lives in that area, and over one quarter of the energy they use comes from coal, so banning it is definitely a good signal. Fuel oil, petroleum coke, combustible waste and some biomass fuels will also be prohibited as part of the effort to fight pollution, Xinhua said.

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Beijing is riddled with pollution-related problems. A recent study concluded that smog in Beijing reduces life expectancy by 15 years. Beijing’s pollution is so severe that it can be seen from outer space, and the situation is worsening. This is why the Chinese government took this drastic measure.

Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and Shijingshan districts will all stop using coal and coal products and shut down coal-fired power plants and other coal facilities. However, this does little to dampen the overall coal use of the country. In 2012, a report stated that China and India were building 4 coal plants per week. Simply relocating coal plants from urbanized areas to poorer areas is not the solution, and I hope this is not what China has in mind.

Image via