It’s no secret that China’s pollution is a very serious problem. Chen Zhu, the former Chinese Health Minister, has estimated that the country’s pollution is responsible for up to half a million deaths every year.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has acknowledged the problem, calling pollution the single “most prominent” issue facing the country today and establishing a $1.65 billion fund dedicated to reducing China’s pollution levels.
A key part of these efforts is curbing the use of coal, which produces large amounts of smog when burned. About 70-80% of China’s current energy production comes from coal.
China has already closed more than 1,100 coal mines this year in an effort to eliminate outdated capacity. Now, the Chinese government is announcing plans to close another 2,000 mines by the end of next year, limiting the total number of mines in the country to 10,000 by 2016.
The closure plans also aim at increasing workplace safety for coal workers. This past August, China passed new legislation imposing more severe penalties to limit the number of workplace accidents (the law took effect on December 1).
According to the China News Service,
“The law, effective from Dec 1, increases penalties and reinforces the concept of human safety taking priority over economic progress. A major accident will result in penalties of between 1 million yuan ($161,000) and 5 million yuan, and extraordinarily serious accidents will be punished by fines between 5 million and 20 million yuan.”
China’s State Administration of Coal Mine Safety recently announced that from January to November, accidents were down 29.7% and worker deaths were down 36.5% in China’s 50 largest coal-producing counties (compared to the same period last year).
Read the original story from ECNS.