When it comes to China’s pollution problem, it seems like it’s one step forward and two steps back. China just announced plans to ban coal use in Beijing by 2020, citing the fuel source as a major contributor to the city’s crippling smog problem. However some environmentalists are worried that the alternative could actually increase smog in the city.

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Coal accounts for 22% of China’s smog and a quarter of its energy consumption. Instead of coal, the city says that it wants to focus on electricity and natural gas for heating in an attempt to mitigate some of the pollution. To really drive the point home, the government also announced that environmental protection will be one of the top criteria on which leaders are judged.

Related: Beijing Announces Pollution Tax on Gas to Decrease Dangerous Smog Levels

The problem with the idea is that moving to coal-to-gas plants, which is part of the plan to move away from coal, could actually increase emissions. In fact, some studies suggest that coal-to-gas can produce double the pollution in Beijing. In a city that is already struggling with poor air quality, increasing emissions could have devastating consequences for the city and for the planet.

Via Al Jazeera

Lead image via Shutterstock, image via David Barrie