03 April 2014

Environment is priceless

Q writes:*

In 2013, a serious haze occurred in almost all regions of the middle east of China. The haze lasted for an approximately half month from December 2nd to 14th. Once again, another haze occurred in Feb 2014. It is no doubt that the haze was caused by air pollution, but why it takes place so often in winter? The answer is that the government burns a great amount of coal to provide urban heating in northern China which lead to a severe air pollution. In China, coal is much cheaper than natural gas, solar energy and so on. But compare to the cheap price of coal, the government of China should pay more attention on the serious air pollution caused by coal burning.

There are many ways that can reduce air pollution which caused by coal burning. For example, reduce air pollution by improving the quality of coals. China imports a great amount of coals but many of them are inferior coals which contain a lower calorific value, higher ash and higher sulfur. Burning these inferior coals will discharge much more dust, CO, harmful substance and pollutants. To deal with it I think the government of China should restrict the quality of coal imported from other countries and adding tax on it. For those firms who burn inferior coals, they should also pay more environment tax. As a result, less inferior coals will be imported into China and less firms will use it.

Bottom Line: Though China has a rapid growth of GDP, the reduction of environmental quality is also rapidly. The innovation of energy resource structure must be enforced to keep our mother-land clean. Sacrificing environment to promote economy is not a good business.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.


  1. I think the idea you proposed is interesting and useful in discussion of causes of haze, which is that the inferior coal consumption, I agree with you that this is an important reason, and also, the inefficient combustion of coal would create more sulfur, advanced technology should be used to powder the coal before it is burned, this method would dramatically increase the combustion ratio. China is a developing countries facing increasingly large demand of electricity and energy in production, like other developed countries, it it inevitable to make a economic progress without pollution, but I think the pollution must be controlled into certain level to make it under control, we hope that in the long run, china will use more clean and renewable energy. I think the tax on consumption of inferior coal is a good way to control the pollution, also, I think we should shut down the small coal mining companies because these small firms produce most of inferior coal with relatively lower technology.

  2. Shutting down those small companies is certainly effective. Although the tax will reduce consumption of inferior coal in China, those coal will still be burned somewhere else. The damage to air is still existing. So the simpliest way is stop mining them. Of course an advanced technology that can significantly improve utilization or reduce pollution while burning coal is even better.

  3. Yes, the coal is the cheapest but also the dirtiest source of the energy. And like you said, I agree with you on regulating the quality of the coal as the better quality ones release less of the carbon dioxide. However, I think that the government should play even greater roles than just regulating the quality of the fossil fuels, but also provide subsidy in using renewable energy (and technology). So, firms now have more options to choose from. They can simply use better quality coals to avoid high tax and environmental fee but also, they can switch to renewable energy which is even better for the environment.


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