Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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China Announces Plan to Improve Efficiency of Coal Plants to Reduce Pollution

China Coal Pollution

(Photo : Getty Images/Kevin Frayer) Chinese authorities plan to improve the efficiency of the country's coal plants to reduce the amount of pollutants they produce.

The Chinese central government announced on Wednesday that it will start taking steps to improve the efficiency of coal plants in order to reduce the amount of pollutants they produce by around 60 percent. Environmental regulators estimate that as much as 180 million metric tons of carbon dioxide produced by the nation's coal plants could be eliminated in the next five years.

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The New York Times reported that the announcement is the first concrete step that Beijing is taking in reduce the amount of pollutants produced by coal power plants, which have been one of the major contributors of greenhouse gasses in the world.

As Chinese leader Xi Jinping attended the climate summit in Paris this week, Beijing and nearby areas suffered the worst smog pollution this year. The level of PM 2.5 level in the atmosphere has since exceeded the WHO safety limit by as much as 4,000 percent.

Around half of the coal produced annually in the country are allocated to power plants. Under the new plan, older coal plants would be upgraded in order to make them as efficient as newer ones. A newly built coal plant can produce one kilowatt hour of power for every 300 grams of coal.

Nevertheless, power plants that use coal produce less pollutants than the cement and steel factories. Even the massive big boilers used during winter contribute far more air pollution.

Despite its contribution to air pollution, authorities have authorized the construction of more than 150 new coal power plants. Critics say this would make it even more is difficult for renewable energy producers to enter the power market.

Government and private environmental experts believe that even if there is an oversupply of coal power plants in the country, the recent economic downturn may dampen the increased use of coal for power.

Xi announced last year that the country would probably peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. By 2020, authorities plan to limit the amount of coal used in the country to almost 5 billion tons.

A number of researchers believe that China may have already reached its coal consumption peak after comparison of its coal use in 2014 and the previous year did not show any increase.

During negotiations at the Paris climate summit, Beijing had to update its data with regards to its coal consumptions.

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