You want clean air or a warm house?

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Combination of satellite photos shows Chinese-controlled North Island, part of the Paracel Islands group in the South China Sea, on February 15, 2017 (top) and on March 6, 2017. Planet Labs/Handout via REUTERS

What’s on Weibo translates a social media posting that has been widely circulated in China complaining that in many parts of northern China, although not Beijing, “the heating, that is often envied by many people in the South, has not arrived as scheduled.”

  • A Chinese government plan to move away from coal to ease pollution required millions of people in northern China to convert to cleaner fuels, such as natural gas, for heating and cooking.
  • But it does not yet seem to be feasible to replace coal with alternative energy sources, and natural gas is too expensive for many rural households and small towns.
  • “The Ministry of Environmental Protection, in an urgent letter to 28 northern cities on Monday, said residents could continue using coal to power their winter heating systems or use other means such as burning firewood to keep warm in places where the transition to natural gas or electricity hasn’t been completed,” according to Caixin

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