China expands switch from polluting coal heating in 2018 -environment minister

(Reuters News, 11 Mar 2019) Moving the winter heating programme to cleaner types of fuel is a major part of the country's war on pollution, now in its sixth year.

China expanded its coal-to-gas and coal-to-electricity projects to 35 cities in 2018 from 12 cities the previous year, China's environment minister, Li Ganjie, said on Monday, as the world's second-largest economy stepped up its fight against smog.

China's winter heating programme used to burn an estimated 400 million tonnes of coal a year, and switching it to cleaner types of fuel was identified as a major part of the country's war on pollution, now in its sixth year.

The programme to convert households to low-emission heating ran into difficulties last winter amid widespread natural gas shortages, but 4.8 million households still managed to make the switch from coal to natural gas and electricity last year, up from 4 million households switched in 2017, Li said.

China has also installed ultra-low emissions technology at more than 80 percent of its total coal-fired power generation capacity, Li added.

But, speaking to journalists at a press conference on the sidelines of China's annual parliamentary meeting, Li warned that despite the strides made in 2018, China's war on smog was getting harder.

"In reality the pressures are huge and it isn't easy to be optimistic about the trends," he said. "The things that could easily be done have already mostly been done, and the things that need to be done afterwards are much harder."

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Reuters News, 11 Mar 2019: China expands switch from polluting coal heating in 2018 -environment minister