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Report: China curbs small-scale coal burning in 2 provinces to cut pollution

China will double down on small-scale coal burning in the Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces by 2020 in its effort to curtail pollution in the country, Reuters reported June 19, citing Vice-Minister of Ecology and Environment Zhao Yingmin.

In 2017, the country completed its initiative of curbing pollution in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei as well as the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta manufacturing hubs, and it is now set to release a new plan covering the period of 2018 through 2020, the report said, citing Zhao.

After implementing policy that targeted industrial-scale coal users, China is now turning its sights on "scattered" pollution sources such as backstreet workshop and rural heating facilities, the report said. Zhao named the two northern provinces, both of which rely on coal for 90% of their energy needs, as a key target in the country's anti-smog efforts.

The government is exempting the Pearl River Delta from being subject to the new initiative. The area includes the major financial center of Shenzhen near Hong Kong, and was one of the few able to reach the interim particulate matter air quality standard set by the government in 2017.

China's new plan has been met with some opposition, with critics arguing that a "one size fits all" policy is no longer as effective, but Zhao said the country is set on its path and will see it through to the end to 2020, the report said.