With the recent talks of smog choking Beijing, not much attention is given to the causational factors behind the pollution. China’s economy is heavily coal dependent, with approximately 2/3 of its energy generated from coal or coal derivatives. Datong, a city several hundred kilometers to the west of Beijing is considered to be the coal capital of china. As coal veins are close to the surface, open pit mining is the most common extraction method. However, it has harsh environmental impacts. With China’s consumption of coal tripling within the past decade, China burns almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined. This, along with millions of cars on the road has lead to smog and people questioning the country’s economic model. The Natural Resources Defence Council asserts that “a sustained effort to reduce China’s dependence on heavy industry is now required”. Pollution from coal is a serious threat to public safety, and has been cited as a major cause of premature death in China’s 4 largest cities. In order to reduce the smog, authorities in Beijing have shut down factories and taken cars off roads. Long term, China is investing in renewable energies, such as hydro-electrical power. Ultimately, China needs to assess its energy policies and determine the most effective sustainable model.