China considers cap on coal use under new air pollution law

The Chinese State Council, the country’s chief administrative authority, on Tuesday (Sept. 9) published online a draft document with revisions to the national Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law (also known as Air Pollution Law), showing purposes to “lay out mid- and long-term targets to cap coal consumption, to reduce the share of coal in the energy mix”, Reuters reported.

China is the world’s biggest coal consumer and gets nearly 80 percent of its electricity from the heavily polluting fuel. The government started considering measures to curb coal use in recent years as smog and air pollution have become a serious problem in several Chinese cities.

“The State will ban the production, import, sales and combustion of coal that does not meet quality standards, and will encourage the burning of high-quality coal that has undergone washing and selecting,” the draft said. The document did not state what the new standards for import will be, but the new law would make way for a mandatory cap on consumption to be set in the next five-year plan that will run from 2016, Reuters said.

The draft law is out for public consultation and comment until Oct. 8, a choice deemed by many as “a big step forward for governmental transparency and public participation”. As noted by NRDC, the Chinese government does not usually seek public comments on laws until they are submitted to the National People’s Congress (NPC), at which point it becomes more difficult for the public to influence legislation.