World’s Worst Polluter China Introduces Railroad To Feed Even More Coal From Mongolia

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As the rest of the industrialized world instructs its citizens to prepare for a more energy-efficient, tougher, but more “green” future, China continues to power its factories and megacities by merry burning huge amounts of coal.

On Monday, China and Mongolia announced the launch of a new 145-mile railway that will transport coal from Mongolia’s Tavan Tolgoi field across the border to hungry Chinese factories.

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China’s state-owned company Global times praised the railroad’s ability to transport up to 50 million tons of coal per year to China, at a greatly reduced cost of $8 per ton, compared to about $32 per ton for coal transported by truck. Chinese officials expect the increased volume and lower shipping costs to bring a “significant” drop in the cost of coal.

Even before the railway was announced, Mongolia’s coal exports to China were increasing by more than 200 percent a month.

“The Chinese and Mongolian economies are complementary and have great potential for cooperation, with China having a large market, advanced technologies and sufficient capital, while Mongolia is home to rich mineral resources,” said the Global times reported.

A train loaded with coal gallops on the xilingol grassland in Inner Mongolia, China, July 12, 2022. (CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) discussed the breathtaking magnitude of China’s “coal power explosion” on Monday, pointing out that China is serenely ignoring climate change lectures from Western activists in order to “build more coal-fired capacity than the rest of the world combined”.

INNER MONGOLI, CHINA - NOVEMBER 03: A Chinese worker loads coal into a furnace as smoke and steam rise from an unauthorized steel mill on November 3, 2016 in Inner Mongolia, China.  To meet China's targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, authorities are pushing to close privately owned steel, coal and other highly polluting factories across rural areas.  In many cases, factory owners say they pay informally "Fines" to local inspectors and then reopened.  The enforcement comes at a time when the future of US support for the 2015 Paris Agreement is at stake, leaving China poised as an unlikely leader in the international effort against climate change.  US President-elect Donald Trump has sent mixed signals about whether he will pull the US out of pledges to curb the greenhouse gases that scientists say are causing global temperatures to rise.  Trump once stated that the concept of global warming was: "created" by China to harm American production.  China's leadership has stated that any change in US climate policy will not affect its commitment to implement the Climate Action Plan.  While China is the largest polluter in the world, it is also a global leader in establishing renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.  (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A Chinese worker loads coal into a furnace as smoke and steam rise from an unauthorized steel mill on November 3, 2016 in Inner Mongolia, China. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

“Under the non-binding 2015 Paris climate agreement, China can increase its emissions until 2030. And will it ever be,” the WSJ noted dryly, citing estimates of an 11 percent increase in China’s emissions since 2015, while the United States has cut emissions by six percent over the same period.

Smoke rises from a large steel mill while a Chinese worker works at an unauthorized steel mill, in the foreground, on Nov. 4, 2016 in Inner Mongolia, China (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, much of that emission reduction in the US was achieved by switching from coal to natural gas, which is what the Biden administration is trying to kill. Meanwhile, since the Paris agreement, China has added 185 gigawatts of coal-fired power capacity — not much less than the total United States operational coal-fired electricity capacity in early 2022.

“While the Biden administration is committed to curbing fossil fuels in the US regardless of economic damage, Beijing is moving forward with coal imports, mining and coal-fired power plants to become the world’s leading economy. They must marvel at their good fortune in having rivals so self-destructive,” said the… WSJ said.

For its part, Mongolia’s economy is tough dependent on coal mining, and it has been working on railway projects for more than a decade to enable greater exports to China and Russia. Most of Mongolia’s existing railways and highways were built decades ago by the Soviet Union, and they are nowhere near the shipping capacity necessary for Mongolian exports to reach its full potential.

Freight transportation is more expensive and more dangerous for carrying heavy loads of coal and ore than rail, and the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic soured Mongolian exporters on trucks because so many of the border crossings with China were closed.

Mongolia hopes to build more roads and railways to access its own remote resources, as well as improve export capacity to China and Russia. A “mega project” to build hundreds of miles of track to remote but resource-rich Western Mongolia was authorized by the Mongolian cabinet in March.