China’s Coal Consumption Approaches Total of Rest of World

It’s not always that I agree with Time. But this time I do, even if they’re a bit late to the party.

“As the data shows, China is now burning almost as much coal as the rest of the world—combined. And despite impressive support from Beijing for renewable energy and a dawning understanding about the dangers of air pollution, coal use in China is poised to continue rising, if slower than it has in recent years. That’s deadly for the Chinese people—see the truly horrific air pollution in Beijing this past month—and it’s dangerous for the rest of the world. Coal already accounts for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the biggest causes of man-made climate change. Combine that with the direct damage that air pollution from coal combustion does to human health, and there’s a reason why some have called coal the enemy of the human race.”

Read more:

18 responses to “China’s Coal Consumption Approaches Total of Rest of World

  1. The chart is year old data…reporting 2011 statistics in the year 2013 is a fun game….it makes it sound like something has changed.

    It also quotes a growth rate which is a year old…which implies a growth rate for the last year…instead of a growth rate for the previous year which we already knew about.

    • It may not be new but it’s… well… graphic…

      • BP had Chinese coal consumption at 49.4% of global total in June of 2012 including ‘pretty graphics’

        Click to access coal_section_2012.pdf

        Let’s review…John Kerry just got confirmed as Secretary of State…he’s blathered on about putting ‘climate’ back on the agenda…then a US agency charged with informing the public about various statistics regurgitates some ‘old statistics’ that end up being carried by major news media as ‘news’.

        In the military this is known as ‘psy ops’. It’s against the law for the US military to engage in ‘psy ops’ targeted at US citizens for a reason. So why is the US EIA engaging in a ‘prohibited’ activity?

  2. News –

    According to data released by the China National Coal Association on Friday, China’s coal production grew by 4 percent in 2012, down 4.7 percentage points from the previous year.

  3. Burning coal pollutes. No doubt.

    A few missing details: Presumably, most of China’s coal consumption is for electricity generation. Where are those plants in relation to Beijng? What is the chemical composition of the Beijing smog – what % sulfate, black carbon, others? How much of the pollution is attributable to roadway vehicles? How much to “local industries” – probably not the main electric generating stations?

    The point is that I don’t know how strongly the coal usage and the urban air pollution are coupled. Maybe someone here does.

    • BillC

      “Presumably, most of China’s coal consumption is for electricity generation.”

      Only if we presume ‘most’ is roughly 1/2.

      China’s 2012 Coal fired electricity consumption was 3,911bn kWh or 3.9 billion MWh. 1 tonne of 5500kcal/kg(9900 btu/lb) coal = approx 2 MWh.

      So coal consumption for electricity was about 1.95 billion tonnes out of approx 3.8 billion tonnes of consumption.

      Coal is the primary residential heating fuel in China…enormous amounts are also used in making steel, cement and various chemicals. (China consumes 2 billion tons of cement per year…compared to 100 million tons in the US).

  4. Calling coal an ‘enemy of mankind’ is such a useless bit of ignorant fluff.
    Ask a Chinese person what they think of coal (I have) and “enemy” is not going to be a very common answer.
    But this is the same NYT that did not do anything to correct the vastly deceptive picture they portrayed of Stalin even as he killed off millions by mayhem and starvation and gulag.
    The NYT actually thinks that much of the electrical power their shrinking circle of readers uses daily comes from non-coal sources? Ignorance in layers.

    • Somewhere in the neighborhood of 15% of New York State electricity production comes from coal. Similar percentages apply to the New England states.

      Yes…the New York times suffers from trying to apply a ‘local’ viewpoint.

  5. If you’re looking down the energy ladder at wood, charcoal and dung, coal is the best thing you’ve ever seen. If you’re looking up the energy ladder at oil, natural gas, hydroelectric power, solar and nuclear, it is dirty and out of date. It’s all perspective and for half the Chinese nation coal is the solution, not the problem.


    The government aims to keep total energy consumption below 4 billion tons of standard coal equivalent by 2015, with electricity consumption below 6.15 trillion kilowatt-hours, according to a statement released after a State Council meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.

    • If you can find me any official document produced by any government agency that supports the map displayed at Tallbloke’s it would be appreciated. I’ve look. The highest I can find for China is 960GW of coal by 2015.(Considering they already have 800GW that’s 400 GW short of the supposed 500 GW planned.

      • It was in The Guardian so it must be accurate lol.

        Go to

        and click on the Data Table tab on the graphic.

        “WRI focuses on the intersection of the environment and socio-economic development. We go beyond research to put ideas into action, working globally with governments, business, and civil society to build transformative solutions that protect the earth and improve people’s lives.”

      • old fossil,

        The WRI report has been around the world more times then I can count.

        What I was looking for is any evidence that backs up their report other then ‘they say so’.

        China’s plan the last I checked was ‘no more then 960GW’ of coal by 2015(They have to accelerate coal plant construction to make it). Their 12th 5 year plan runs out in 2015 and no one has seen the 13th 5 year plan because it doesn’t yet exist.

        India is planning to add 70GW by 2016. Again that is from their 5 year plan.(Again..they will have to accelerate coal plant construction to make it) There is no plan beyond the 5 year plan.

        The US EIA does not project 20 GW of new coal fired construction in the US ever…however WRI claims there are plans for that. If US EIA doesn’t know then no such plan exists in the US.

        So my question is can anyone, anywhere back up any of the numbers being bandied about by WRI. I can’t…and I generally work pretty hard at trying to find ‘the plan’.


    By the end of the year, Chinese companies will begin international marketing of a 1,400 megawatt power reactor based largely on the Westinghouse AP1000….SNPC Chairman Wang Binghua also announced that development of a larger reactor called the CAP1700 would begin this year.

  8. “Coal consumption will peak below 4 billion tonnes,” Jiang Kejun, who led the modelling team that advised the State Council on energy use scenarios, told Fairfax Media.

  9. Chinese coal utilization, and now technology as well, overtakes the US:

  10. Clean-coal technology implementation seems more likely than non-coal technology implementation.

    CO2 is not a pollutant that kills Chinese citizens, it is the sulphur compounds and the particulates that kills. If Chinese powerplants and cities had US quality scrubbers on them, there wouldn’t be the outcry.

    Which will happen just as these things happened in Britain and the US. A whole bunch of people will have to die, first. (The same way general sewage sanitation happened in Europe and America: deaths first, fixes second.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s