UB coal ban: households to face challenges this winter www.news.mn
Starting in May, the government of Mongolia introduced a coal burning ban in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, as part of efforts to clean up the city’s air. Those households and businesses that continue to burn coal risk being fined. However, as winter approaches, implementing the ban is going a challenge; at the same time, reducing the chronic air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, is of fundamental importance in order to stop the annual death toll – particularly among infants and the elderly – and protect the health of the population as a whole.
In the place of coal, the government is offering a more expensive but more efficient briquette made of coal from the Tavan Tolgoi mine. Besides being more efficient with a higher calorific value, the briquettes emit less smoke when they burn. The government plans to distribute 600,000 tons of briquettes at selling points throughout the city.
According to one source, the government has set quotas of 3 tonnes of briquettes per household this winter. Special electronic cards will be distributed free for buying the briquettes and controlling the quotas.
Air pollution in Mongolia is caused, in part, by Ulaanbaatar’s topography, climatic conditions, rapidly increasing population, poor infrastructure and heavy reliance on coal for up to eight months of the year. Nearly half of Mongolia’s population – 1.5 million – resides in Ulaanbaatar where the vast majority of Mongolia’s air pollution crisis is caused by those living in the ger districts on the hillsides on the north side of the city. Named for the traditional nomadic dwellings of Mongolia’s herding lifestyle, a ger is a circular tent with bedding and furniture surrounding the stove: the one thing making the harsh climate of Mongolia bearable.
As the world’s coldest capital, Ulaanbaatar can see temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius – contributing to the population’s heavy use of coal to keep warm. In fact, to keep warm from the harsh Mongolian weather, Ulaanbaatar residents have been burning over a million tons of raw coal per year.