The main culprit: coal.
Now, after experiencing some of the worst smog levels on record earlier this year, China is planning to reduce the amount of coal it burns for electricity, especially in its northern region where coal has long been a major source of heating energy. According to the Wall Street Journal, Chinese officials have announced a plan to reduce coal's prominence in its energy mix, decreasing it from a 70 percent share to less than 65 percent in 2017. It's not a huge cut, but it's some form of progress. Still, there will be challenges, Brian Spegele reports:
The plan largely focuses on developed eastern areas, but says little about how to control pollution in rapidly developing parts of western China. It is also unclear how new targets will be measured or enforced, which has been a long-standing challenge in lowering overall pollution levels.
China also plans to boost its renewable energy share to 13 percent in 2017, up from 9 percent last year.
Even so, it's important to keep in mind that even if China can reduce coal's share in its energy portfolio, China's power capacity is set to double by 2030, meaning emissions might not necessarily decrease depending on how much China actually reduces its coal consumption.
Read more: Wall Street Journal
Photo: Flickr/Kevin Dooley