Man running in Chinese city of Lanzhou
Wang Lei now enjoys running on the river bank in Lanzhou, China

Lanzhou was once known as the “smog city” of China.

 “Ten years ago, I wouldn't run very far because the air wasn’t as good as it is now,” recalls long-term resident Wang Lei, who now runs each day along the banks of the Yellow River, which flows through the city. “You wouldn’t want to run wearing a mask, right?”

Thankfully, Lei’s plight is just one of many that has changed, thanks in part to the conversion of coal-fired boilers to natural gas. 

Since the start of a three-year programme to convert nearly hundreds of coal-fired boilers to natural gas, hospital admissions for respiratory problems have fallen in Lanzhou by around 40%. 

More tourists are also visiting the city, the capital of Gansu province, as memories of its polluted past begin to fade. 

Nearly 12,000 kilometres away, more than 12,000 people are gathering in Washington DC for one of the energy industry’s largest events, the World Gas Conference.

More than 600 speakers will discuss the strategic, commercial and technical challenges facing the industry as well as some of the regulatory changes ahead.

Back in Lanzhou, daily life will carry on under clearer skies, an example of what can be achieved as the world continues its progress towards a lower-carbon future.

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