News / Asia

Despite Renewable Energy Push, China Still Runs on Coal

Fishermen sit beside a lake in front of the chimneys of a coal-burning power station located on the outskirts of Beijing, November 22, 2011.
Fishermen sit beside a lake in front of the chimneys of a coal-burning power station located on the outskirts of Beijing, November 22, 2011.

China is an environmental contradiction. The rapidly developing Asian giant is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and still relies mostly on heavily polluting coal for its energy.

But the country is also trying to counter the environmental damage by aggressively investing in non-polluting sources of energy.

The planet is getting warmer. Photos from 100 years ago show Himalayan glaciers - which supply water for many of Asia's major rivers - are shrinking.

Many scientists say burning coal is part of the reason. The cheap fuel is China’s and the world’s main energy source, but its carbon emissions also warm the planet.  In Beijing, an art exhibit uses images to illustrate the linkage between coal and ice.

This 30-year-old visitor, who refused to give his name, says the exhibit raises very relevant issues.

“This is especially the case in China, the environment has been ruined in a dramatic way.  Maybe it’s economic development that brings in such negative effects.”

Twenty year old college student Zhou Mengyue calls the exhibit inspiring, but she says China must raise basic living standards before it can fully address environmental problems.

“If the government cannot ensure that people have enough food, clothing and other basics, it is very hard to talk about other issues," he said. "I think the government is concerned first about improving peoples’ livelihoods.”

The government is making some progress. The United Nations says China this year was the world’s largest investor in renewable energy projects.

Longtime China analyst Orville Schell, who is with the Asia Society, applauds Beijing’s efforts, but worries they are still not enough.

“The problem is, for all the progress that they are making, they still are increasing aggregate amount of greenhouse gas emissions," Schell said. "And I think are increasing the aggregate amount of pollution within the country, because the rapidity of their economic development is so fast. So, they are winning, at the same time, they are losing.”

Schell adds China still can play a meaningful global leadership role on climate change, but it remains unclear if the government is willing to tackle the social and economic challenges from replacing coal with cleaner alternatives.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs