Beijing’s administration announced on Monday that the city will stop using coal completely by 2020 in an effort to reduce the capital's crippling pollution levels, which are currently the norm in the country's urban centers.
Beijing’s municipality stated that it would move toward alternative sources such as natural gas and cut down on the use of thermal power for heating purposes. The city’s Municipal Environment Protection Bureau reportedly said that it would entirely stop the use of coal and related products in the districts of Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and Shijingshan, as a part of its effort to become a coal-free city by the end of the decade, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Beijing, which is trying to live up to the National People's Congress's target of reducing pollution levels across the country, also said that its municipality will shut down all coal-fired power plants and facilities in the region, and plans to ban further high-polluting substances like fuel oil, petroleum coke, combustible waste and some biomass fuel.
According to Xinhua’s report, Beijing scores 2.5 on the particulate matter index, which measures air quality and pollution levels. Motor vehicles account for 31.1 percent of the pollution while burning coal accounts for about 22.4 percent.
Coal usage accounted for more than 25.4 percent of the total energy consumption in China, according to the report, and the country expects the figure to fall to less than 10 percent by 2017.
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In April, the country signed a law that would require local governments to gauge the level of pollution generated by companies in the region and make public a list of violators with excessive emission levels. Last September, China also initiated a ban on building new coal-fired power plants in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Associated Press, or AP, reported.
Despite these measures, China's coal usage is expected to increase in coming years, according to AP, which added that the increase would occur despite environmental protection having become one of the main political agendas for the country's administration.