Coal as ice: why Siberia is so reluctant to kick its dirty habit

World

Coal as ice: why Siberia is so reluctant to kick its dirty habit

Russian executives say Western climate change targets do not take into account economic realities

Ed Clowes

The Arctic snow that fell on Siberia in February didn’t coat the region’s cities in a thick, beautiful blanket of white powder as it usually does. Instead, residents awoke to find their neighbourhoods coated in a noxious dark substance that looked like mounds of volcanic ash.

Streets, cars and schools in Kiselyovsk, a town deep in the Russian coal-mining heartland of Kuzbass, were shrouded in black snow. As far as the eye could see, the city – punctuated by smokestacks that belched black smoke – was covered in a toxic sludge, in a bleak scene that locals described as “post-apocalyptic”.

An accident at one of the region’s coal-fired power plants was to blame, according to the local authorities. Activists have said that because of these mines, child cerebral palsy and cancer are both above the national average in Kuzbass, while the normal life expectancy is three to four years lower than Russia’s average...

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