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China Bans New Coal Mines: Why Hasn't U.S. Done the Same?

Energy

China has taken a bold step to address pollution and oversupply issues plaguing the country’s energy market: a three-year ban on new coal mines.

Starting this year, the country will suspend all new permit applications for coal mines for the next three years. In addition, officials also announced that they plan to close approximately 1,000 coal mines throughout the country, taking away more than 60 million metric tons of excess coal supply—unneeded as China moves to decrease its reliance on coal.

While the Obama administration has taken important steps to burn less coal as a key step to reduce pollution and address climate change, there has not yet been any meaningful effort to stop approving coal mine expansions. Coal mine expansions are rubber-stamped even when mining companies are aiming to export our coal abroad.

Why is the Obama administration’s Interior Department continuing to approve more mining for coal we don’t need and can’t afford to burn?

China and the U.S. are the two largest coal producing nations. Both countries made promises in the lead up to last month’s Paris talks to address the serious threat of climate change by taking measures in their own countries to cut emissions and move toward a clean energy future. It is clear that China is taking an important step to follow through on that promise by stopping new coal mines and the expansion of coal production. The U.S. should do the same.

In fact, following the climate talks, Greenpeace joined other groups in asking that the Obama administration reject or pause 25 pending federal coal leases, which combined total more than 2.5 billion tons of publicly owned coal.

President Obama should use his last year in office to effectively put measures in place that keep fossil fuels in the ground. Joining China in banning new coal mine permits could be a step on the long road toward a climate-safe future.

Take action today: tell President Obama that climate leadership means keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

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Aerial view of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on Sept. 6, 2019. Tthe world's biggest rainforest is under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation. JOHANNES MYBURGH / AFP via Getty Images

By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

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