China and India Step Away from Coal

China and India Step Away from Coal

©Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images

As the world’s first and third biggest consumers of coal, China and India account for a significant part of our planet’s pollution. In the last few years, the impact of this environmental damage on the daily lives of Chinese and Indian citizens has become increasingly visible, with smog taking over entire cities for days. This has led to more severe effects on health than ever before: a study shows that 1.1 million Indians die prematurely due to the consequences of air pollution. Nevertheless, responses from the two countries’ authorities had failed to appear for a long time, until last year, when policies limiting the consumption of coal in power plants were implemented. According to a report by the environmental organisations CoalSwarm, Sierra Club and Greenpeace, the measures have had dramatic results, as plans for the construction of such new plants saw a spectacular drop in 2016.

coal (kəʊl) = Kohle

to account for sth = (hier) auf etw entfallen

to take over = (hier) erobern

prematurely (ˌpreməˈtʃʊəli) = vorzeitig

policy (ˈpɒləsi) = Regelwerk

consumption (kənˈsʌmpʃn) = Verbrauch

power plant (ˈpaʊə(r) plɑːnt) = Kraftwerk

to implement (ˈɪmplɪment) = umsetzen

drop (drɒp) = Rückgang


The study revealed a worldwide decrease of 48% in plans for the construction of new coal units, while construction starts fell by an impressive 62%. The report also mentioned the results of a study which showed that the amount of coal power capacity authorized for construction in China last year was 22GW, 85% less than the 142GW of 2015. In January 2017, China cancelled the “planning and construction of 85 specific plants in 13 provinces”. In June 2016, the Indian Ministry of Power declared that the energy demand could be met by the already existing coal power plants until 2019, discouraging developers from planning new ones. Furthermore, the draft National Energy Plan, which was released in December 2016, specified that there will be no need for new coal power capacities beyond those which are already under construction, until at least 2027. Europe and the United States are also contributing to the global effort against the production of polluting energy through their retirements of coal plants, which are taking place at an unprecedented rate, as approximately 120 large units were taken out of commission in the last two years.

demand (dɪˈmɑːnd) = Nachfrage

developer (dɪˈveləpə(r)) = Bauunternehmer

to release (rɪˈliːs) = (hier) veröffentlichen

retirement (rɪˈtaɪəmənt) = (hier) Außerbetriebsetzung

unprecedented (ʌnˈpresɪdentɪd) = beispiellos

NGOs are positive that the recent developments will likely enable the world to maintain temperature changes below 2 degrees Celsius, measured with pre-industrial averages as a reference. However, several experts are doubting that the environmentally positive signs coming from Asia actually indicate a long-term change of direction in the energy field. It remains to be seen whether the trend will continue over the next few years, thus confirming or refuting the optimistic theory adopted by the three environmental NGOs which carried out the study.

development (dɪˈveləpmənt) = Entwicklung

reference (ˈrefrəns) = Bezug

to doubt (daʊt) = bezweifeln

to refute (rɪˈfjuːt) = widerlegen

carry out = durchführen