What's the Latest Development?
A recent report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reveals that China's coal consumption grew more than 9 percent from 2011, and at 47 percent, it now uses almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined. The report notes that 80 percent of the global increase in coal use since 2000 is attributed solely to China, and in that time the amount of its carbon dioxide emissions has increased by nearly 170 percent. Also, China has outpaced the US in air pollution since 2009.
What's the Big Idea?
Coal is cheap, and China has access to much of it both within its own borders and through import agreements with other countries. Despite evidence linking coal consumption with steadily worsening air quality in Beijing and elsewhere, the report does not expect much change unless and until other, more environmentally-friendly energy sources become more affordable. In addition, other countries with growing economies, notably India, are expected to increase their use of coal in the years ahead. A Brookings Institution analyst said in a Mother Jones interview that "[t]he Asian market is the fastest-growing coal market in the world."
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