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CHINA: Coal cost $248B in hidden expenses in ‘07 — Greenpeace

Oct 29, 2008 - Greenpeace

Climatewire: China’s use of coal power in 2007 cost the country $248 billion in health care costs, environmental damages and government subsidies, according to a report released Monday by Greenpeace.

The $248 billion figure — equivalent to 7.1 percent of China’s gross domestic product — represents additional social costs imposed by coal but does not include purchases of coal or spending on infrastructure. It also does not include the future costs of climate change caused by the carbon dioxide emissions from coal use, Greenpeace said.

China coal consumption“Nobody has calculated the costs,” said Han Xiaoping, senior vice president of Beijing Falcon Pioneer Technology Co., an energy consulting firm. “We are shouldering the costs and the whole world is shouldering the costs.”

Coal accounts for more than 70 percent of China’s energy use and is heavily subsidized by the government. Greenpeace is pushing for the subsidies to be removed and the price to be set by the market, saying the market price would encourage increases in energy efficiency and exploration of alternative technologies. The report also advises China to phase in taxes on coal to compensate for social damages.

China’s coal mines are the world’s deadliest; an average of 13 miners die per day — 70 times the death rate in American mines (AP/CNN.com, Oct. 29). – PR