Remarks of UN Resident Coordinator a.i. during Public awareness raising event on raw coal combustion and its health impact to advocate governmental resolution of “ban use of unprocessed coal” and support its better enforcement
H.E Mr. Davaasuren, Minister of Energy
Distinguished Ms. Byambasuren, Vice Minister of Health
Mr. Altangerel, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Mongolia
Mr. Gantulga, Head of the Government’s Committee to Combat Environmental Pollution
Sain Baitsgaana uu!
I am delighted that today, Mongolia begins enforcing a ban on burning raw coal in its capital, Ulaanbaatar. This is a key step towards the government target of halving air pollution by 2025.
Though we are moving into summer now, winter will be back soon enough. So, we must prepare. We all know that during winter, Ulaanbaatar has some of the most dangerous air on earth, reaching 30 times the WHO’s safe limit in some places. This has severe health consequences, as WHO’s video demonstrates, and produces significant costs for the economy.
The current ban targets a key cause of air pollution: burning raw coal in UB’s ger districts. The UN welcomes this ban.
However, as we have learnt in the past, such efforts must not be made in isolation. So it is also important to ensure enough production and supply of cleaner burning brickets at affordable prices, for those who spend most of their income on fuel. Avoiding black markets is also key, by providing alternative livelihoods for those who depend on the coal economy. At the same time, Mongolia must gradually phase out inefficient stoves and heat-only boilers. Enforcement and monitoring are also vital, for this ban to be effective.
There is also much more that can be done to reduce the excessive consumption of coal-based energy and heating supplied through power plants. It is essential to move to full price recovery, based on its actual consumption. This would provide an incentive for home owners and apartment dwellers to insulate their homes to reduce consumption and heating costs. Currently, the only ones paying the real market price of fuel are those living in ger districts, without subsidized central heating. And they are often less able to pay, than those in apartments. This widens inequality in Mongolia, and must change.
Long-term, Mongolia must also move away from coal, and raise the proportion of renewables in its energy mix. There is ample opportunity for this, with wind and solar abundantly available. Investments are needed from the government and companies to do this with Government providing reliable policy frameworks and enabling conditions, to encourage private sector funding into this vital area.
The UN is working with the Government and all our partners to address both the symptoms and causes of air pollution, and we look forward to cooperating further.
Action is needed across society. So, we also need more awareness campaigns, like this. We call on all of you to champion this ban, by choosing clean coal, or renewables like solar, when possible. Together, we can all make a difference to enable a brighter future for Mongolia that keeps its skies blue, its people healthy, and leave no one behind.