The Environmental Perils of China’s Coal-to-Synthetic Gas Plans

Workers dismantling a facility in Chongqing, China, after a trial operation by a branch of Sinopec Photograph by Liu Chan/Xinhua Press via Corbis

Recently China dramatically revised downward its ambitions for producing shale gas—slashing in half a target of producing more than 60 billion cubic meters annually by 2020, to just 30 billion cm. Meanwhile, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide still aims to radically increase its output of synthetic gas derived from coal—from almost nothing today to 12 percent of gas consumption by 2020. Sinopec alone has just announced a $10 billion investment in coal-to-gas technology.

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