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China's 2014 peak in coal use considered milestone in climate change battle

China'scoal consumption has peaked in 2014, TheGuardian reported July 25, citing official government statistics. This"turning point" in "the history of the climate and economy ofthe world" puts the country on track to start lowering its total carbon emissionsbefore 2025, several years ahead of 2030, its official target date, accordingto Lord Nicholas Stern, a renowned climate economist at the London School ofEconomics.

Sternnoted that a series of "deep and long-term transformations" have contributedto what is now a presumably permanent trend in the country's dwindling coal consumption.Factors include the nation's current economic slowdown — with growth sliding toroughly 6% from around 9% to 10% — as well as its transition from heavy industryto more high-tech and service sectors, the report said.

Coalproduction during the first half of 2016 posted a 9.7% cutback year over yearwhile 2015 saw production down 5.8% compared to 2014. Coal burning in 2015 alsoslipped, by 3.7%,compared to the prior year, the report said. Accordingto economists, the downward trend in China's coal consumption can now beconsidered a "permanent trend, not a blip, due to major shifts in theChinese economy and a crackdown on pollution," the report said.

Whilecoal consumption in China continues to fall, the first half of 2016 saw solarpower climb 28%, nuclear go up 25%, and wind and hydropower both rise 13%, thereport said.