But that is a tricky problem since we have 4 million a year dying from indoor cooking smoke, and millions more from other various aspects of extreme poverty. Most of which would be a greater ameliorated by cheap coal plants. Cheap coals plants are horrible polluters, but they are cheap, aren't as bad as indoor pollution, and allow countries to pull themselves out of abject poverty, thus saving lives immediately by fertilizing crops, making cheap concrete, powering factories, all the things a richer society needs.
China's use of coal has probably peaked. Any developing country would do well to follow China's lead and build renewables rather than coal, whatever its short-term advantages.
To see some of the issues involved with running and maintaining wind power on large scales, this is a great article showing China's struggles.
People in developing countries want "real electricity, not fake electricity" as villagers in Dharnai, India told the Chief Minister of Bihar state when he came to inaugurate a solar microgrid. (subscription required) http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/stories/1060026477
Yes, Beijing's air quality is bad, but you can put pollution control systems on power plants and China is doing exactly that. A very large problem for Beijing is uncontrolled pollution from automobiles, scooters, trucks and other small engines.
The point about coal is that it keeps the lights on and it is affordable. That matters a huge amount when you don't have electricity.
Their coal use clearly hasn't even remotely peaked. All the plans on their table right now call for building a lot more coal power plants.
Their analysts are working on the ground in China, whereas many other Western agencies just look at official numbers... So the truth may be somewhere in between, but Greenpeace's analysis can't be summarily discounted.
Hmm. I think it's more correct to say the /rate of increase/ of China's use of coal has probably peaked.
"China added 39 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity in 2014 — 3 gigawatts more than it added in 2013. That is equivalent to three 1,000 megawatt units every four weeks.[v] At the peak, from 2005 through 2011, China added about two 600-megawatt coal plants a week, for 7 straight years. And, China is expected to add the equivalent of a new 600-megawatt plant every 10 days for the next 10 years. "
China is increasing renewable power generation, but they continue to add coal power generation as well.
The discrepancy is mentioned in Greenpeace's report: "China is still building lots of new coal capacity — it’s just not using it."
The comparison here is between clean energy and fossil fuel. It has little to do with cooking, or extreme poverty.