China and Coal (VIDEO)
by Eli Pollak | Stanford University
Eli Pollak is NextGen Journal’s Energy Correspondent. He will be in Beijing for the next several months, hoping to share insights into China’s rapidly transforming energy system.
This video I took in Inner Mongolia shows a section of freeway outside Hohhot (Inner Mongolia’s capital). Even more remarkable than the traffic jam itself (the parking-lot style traffic was present across the divider for several hours) was the content of the trucks that were causing the jam.
Nearly every one of the trucks was loaded with coal.
If Inner Mongolia’s plentiful coal is the lifeblood feeding China’s rapid economic growth, then National Highway 110 is the vein, and the blood pressure is nearing heart attack condition. Inner Mongolia’s coal production has exploded, and the highway system simply cannot accommodate the movement of energy resources that China’s growth demands.
It can often be difficult from outside of China to get a sense of the scale and speed at which the country is growing and changing. However, I do not think one can look at this video of coal truck after coal truck (after coal truck…) literally parked on the highway waiting to deliver their coal without realizing that something big is happening. China’s demand for energy is massive, rapidly growing, and, today, fed almost entirely by coal. If we have any hope of addressing climate change or shifting the world to a lower-carbon economy, the path leads through Inner Mongolia and the coal traffic jam on National Highway 110.Eli Pollak recently graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Atmosphere & Energy Engineering, and is a Product Manager at The Climate Corporation.