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The casualties of Mongolia’s doomed love affair with coal

15 · Apr · 2020
Photograph by: Regis Defurnaux

Claus Lundstrom writing for Al Jazeera reflects on the consequences of Mongolia’s decades-long reliance on coal as its main heat source. From overcrowded children’s hospitals to increasing difficulties for herder families, Lundstrom concludes that coal has gone from a symbol of economic and political opportunity to “a silent industrial no-man’s land.” Read on for the main points from the article:

  • Pneumonia is the second leading cause for under-five child mortality in Mongolia, according to a 2018 UNICEF report.
  • Greater financial strain is placed on disadvantaged families who have to provide the necessary healthcare for children whose healths are impacted by air pollution.
  • Doctors advise people to leave the city to avoid air pollution, failing to understand that travel advice is a luxury for low-income ger district residents.
  • Mongolia saw an economic boom as a result of increased mining operations after the fall of communism; but it’s become clear the country has fallen into the ‘resource curse’.
  • Herder families face harsher winters and drier summers as a result of climate change exacerbated by mining.
  • Coal overdependence has caused a spike in CO2 emissions in the country, resulting in a 2.2C increase in average temperatures since 1940 – an increase 2.5 times the world average change in temperature.
  • A raw coal ban implemented in December 2018 has supposedly halved air pollution levels; however Alex Heikens, UNICEF’s Mongolia representative says “its visible positive results might end up counterproductive. Only 90 percent decrease air pollution will make any real difference to climate and people’s health.”
  • There are currently no affordable, clean alternatives to coal according to Delgermaa Vanya, an environmental officer at the WHO.
  • What was previously an industrial-scale coal mine in Nalaikh has been put out of business due to the coal ban. Those employed at the mine have been dealt with a harsh blow to their sources of income.

While coal continues to be an important natural and economic resource, Mongolia’s most disadvantaged communities continue to pay the greatest price.

 

Read the original: The casualties of Mongolia’s doomed love affair with coal

Published on February 16, 2020 on Al Jazeera

Translated to Mongolian by Sarantuya Sukhbat
Summarized by Enkhuun Byambadorj

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