China Air Pollution

A man wearing a mask walks on a stone bridge on a smoggy day in Beijing. Pic: AP.

BEIJING (AP) — China’s smog-plagued capital has announced that it will ban all coal sales and use by the end of 2020 as part of its anti-pollution fight.

Beijing’s Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau posted the plan on its website on Monday, saying the city will instead prioritize electricity and natural gas, especially for heating.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency said coal accounted for a quarter of Beijing’s energy consumption in 2012.

Even with the Beijing ban, coal use is expected to soar in China. Coal is a major generator of greenhouse gases and has helped turn China into the world’s largest emitter of carbon and other heat-trapping gases.

In September, the Chinese government announced a prohibition on all new coal-fired power plants around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.