China's Pollution Problem Just Got Much Worse

'China has been burning so much more coal than we believed'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2015 5:13 PM CST
China's Pollution Problem Just Got Much Worse
A woman wears a mask as she walks under smog in Beijing. China has been emitting more greenhouse gasses than previously reported.   (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

We already knew China emitted a huge amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It turns out it's worse than we thought. "China has been burning so much more coal than we believed,” Yang Fuqiang, a former Chinese energy official, tells the New York Times. “This helps to explain why China’s air quality is so poor." According to the Times, new data from China's statistical agency shows it's been burning up to 17% more coal than the government previously disclosed. It's a difference the Times calls "immense."

The Times reports China already emitted more greenhouse gases from coal than any other country; now it's emitting almost a billion more tons of carbon dioxide per year than previously believed. That's more than Germany puts out altogether. Apparently China had been underestimating the amount of coal it was burning for 15 years due to "gaps in data collection." According to the Times, this new revelation will make it harder for those trying to reduce smog in China and greenhouse gases around the world. But Yang is more optimistic. He tells the Times the bad news "will make it easier to get national leaders to take this seriously.” China has pledged to stop the growth of its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. (More China stories.)

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