China’s coal use has “hidden costs”

A survey by Chinese economists and environmentalists indicates that the country's dirty and dangerous coal-mining industry carried a hidden cost of US$250 billion (1.7 trillion yuan) last year, Reuters reported. The figure reflects environmental and social costs attributed to lost and damaged lives, wasted energy and environmental devastation.

The study, "The True Cost of Coal," found that many environmental and health costs from coal mining were not included in the currently low coal and power prices. These missing costs include water, land and air pollution around mines, the thousands of people hurt or killed in mining accidents and sulphur dioxide and mercury emissions that cause acid rain.


Regulations that distort prices were among the key problems identified in the report. Also singled out was weak oversight that allows miners to acquire land cheaply, avoid safety and environment laws and ship coal in dangerously overloaded trucks.

Tariffs would need to rise by around 25% to reflect the real burden for Chinese society, the scientists say. To make coal prices more realistic and to rein in pollution, casualties and waste, the report suggested, extra taxes, stricter enforcement and an end to price caps were needed.

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