China's Latest Idea for Cleaning Up Air Pollution Could be Horrible for Climate Change
China's biggest cities are choking on smog and air pollution emitted by nearby coal plants, and residents are fed up. One way to fix this is to switch over to cleaner energy sources (solar, wind, nuclear, or even natural gas), which has the added benefit of cutting carbon-dioxide output from the world's largest emitter.
But not always! In fact, one of China's big proposals for cleaning up air pollution could, paradoxically, make climate change even worse.
Reuters reports that China has just approved three new plants in its western provinces that would turn coal into synthetic natural gas. The idea is that this gas would then be shipped to population centers in the east, where it would burn much more cleanly in power plants and detoxify the air in cities like Beijing.