The government of China announced on Thursday that it would be allocating nearly $4.6 billion over the next 3 years to close almost 4,300 small or inefficient coal mines, and redeploy the affected workers.
The move will help reduce China’s massive dependance on the coal industry. They currently have 11,000 coal mines in operation, which produce 5.7 billion tonnes a year. China currently gets 64% of its energy from burning coal, a process that releases pollutants extremely detrimental to health like Mercury and Nitrous Oxides.
In 2014 Beijing had more 200 days with “unhealthy” air conditions and only 10 days which were considered “good”. According to a Greenpeace report, in addition to having 2 red alerts for air pollution in Beijing, 90% of the countries cities still have air pollution levels that exceed the government’s own standards.
The government has made promises to combat its problem in Beijing as part of a bid to host the Olympic Winter Games in 2022, and it has seen a modest drop of 13% since implementing stricter regulations. The main contributor to Beijing’s woes is a coal powered industrial park up wind of the city. Even with a hint of hope on the horizon, air pollution still kills at least 1.6 million people every year in China.