China's Shandong province cuts steel and coal capacity in environment plan

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s eastern Shandong province has unveiled new targets to cut steel and coal production capacity, eliminate outdated aluminum smelters and change to cleaner energy as part of a broader nationwide anti-pollution push.

FILE PHOTO - A man rides an electric tricycle amid smog in Chiping, Shandong province, China January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

In a three-year action plan released on Friday, Shandong’s Environmental Protection Bureau said it would cut pig iron production capacity by 600,000 tonnes and crude steel by 3.55 million tonnes by the end of this year.

Coal production capacity would be cut from 156 million tonnes to 140 million tonnes by 2020, it said.

The bureau said more than 70 percent of heating provided in the winter months to rural areas would be derived from clean energy sources by 2020.

As part of efforts to transition away from coal in energy production, the bureau said it would increase imports of natural gas from other provinces and liquefied natural gas (LNG), boosting the provision of natural gas to 15.8 billion cubic meters by 2020. It said it would target the proportion of LNG consumption to reach around 8 percent by 2020.

Transportation of coal from the provincial ports of Qingdao, Yantai and Rizhao would be switched to rail or waterways by the end of this year, while iron ore, coke and other heavy commodities would be mainly transported via rail before the summer of 2020.

The bureau also said it would accelerate plans for major aluminum smelters including Shandong Weiqiao, a unit of China Hongqiao Group, the world’s top producer of the metal, and Xinfa Group to complete the construction of its exclusive use railway lines for their freight.

The plan also targets a reduction in the use of fertilisers by 6 percent and pesticides by 10 percent by 2020 compared to 2015 levels.

Shandong’s environmental action plan comes after China’s State Council last month announced a three-year plan to cut coal consumption, boost electric vehicle sales and further shut outdated steel and coke capacity.

China is in the fifth year of a “war on pollution” aimed at reversing the damage done to the country’s environment since the economy opened up in 1978, with President Xi Jinping promising to use the full might of the Chinese Communist Party to meet the country’s goals.

Reporting by Philip Wen; Additional reporting by Muyu Xu and Meng Meng; Editing by Nick Macfie