From the Australian Financial Review:
Chinese people are richer, having more babies (although not as many as expected), spending more time shopping online and using less coal, according to the latest statistics report on the country’s social and economic development.
Coal consumption and production dropped for the third straight year in 2016, by 4.7 per cent and 9 per cent respectively, the National Statistics Bureau said in its report released on Tuesday. The result is in line with China’s efforts to tackle pollution and reduce carbon emissions by increasing investment in renewable energy.
Coal now makes up 62 per cent of China’s energy mix, down from 64 per cent in 2015.
“China accounts for half the world’s coal consumption and production and this is the third year of declines in a row, which suggests the transformation of the energy market is happening far faster than people were expecting,” said Tim Buckley, from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
At the same time, China’s imports of coal jumped more than 25 per cent to 255.5 million tones. The big increase was partly a result of filling the gap left by the drop in domestic production after the government introduced limits on the number of days mines could operate. This policy lifted prices and prevented a dramatic downturn in the local industry.
“China is playing a long game,” said Mr Buckley. “They don’t want massive short-term disruption.”