While the world has been preoccupied with reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is generated by burning fossil fuels, sulphur dioxide (SO₂) emissions have not received the same attention. Produced by burning coal, wood, petrol, diesel or farm stubble, SO₂ forms a large part of the pollution haze enveloping cities in northern India every winter. Most of the SO₂ in Indian skies is emitted when power plants burn coal to produce electricity. Typically, coal contains 3% of sulphur, but coal from Assam in India is known to have higher content.
After three years of declining coal production, China has suddenly seen a rise in both its production and consumption. While analysts debate whether this is a mere blip in an overall declining trend of coal use, the rest of Asia is also caught in the midst of a strange debate where the death of coal is being celebrated while, at the same time, official consensus seems to be that coal will continue to be a large part of future plans.