China's Coal-Burning Cost the Environment $13 Billion Last Year

china coal 13 billion environment photo

Photo via Twilight Earth

As the number one coal user in the world, China's got a lot of soot on its hands. Around $13 billion worth, according to a recent report from Greenpeace. That's how much the nation's coal-burning ways cost the environment last year: $13 billion worth of damage by polluting the air and water, degrading the environment, and injuring human health. Greenpeace's study, which looked at China's 10 biggest generators of power, found that the nation continued to rapidly eclipse the industrialized world in its prodiguous use of coal. As reported by Bloomberg:

Three utilities alone emitted more greenhouse gases than all of the U.K., the environmental group said today in "Polluting Power: Ranking China's Power Companies"
And even though China is racing towards a more renewable future--it has six of the biggest wind farms in the world planned, and many more alternative energy projects underway--coal still accounts for 80% of the fast-developing nation's power consumption. Which means there's still a massive environmental impact to be considered, and much room for improvement. From Bloomberg:
"Although China has built a number of coal plants using the most efficient coal technology available, many of China's power stations are still burning coal with inefficient, outdated technologies," Greenpeace said. The top electricity companies emitted an equivalent of 1.44 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide by burning 20 percent of China's coal in 2008, it said.
And by GP's calculations, it all adds up to around $13 billion of damage to the environment--but that's nothing compared to the cost of the global change in climate that the continued burning of coal in such quantities is helping to facilitate. Closing down some of its major plants is a good start, but China's got a long way to go before it cleans up its act.

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