Coal is a dominant energy resource in China’s energy mix for decades. Due to the increasing domestic environment concerns (e.g. air quality, water availability) and pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, China is actively looking to phase out coal from its energy system. For instance, China’s coal cap policy has already become a cornerstone of China’s low carbon transition and the implementation of its target to ensure that its carbon emission peak by around 2030. The question is now how China can begin to prepare a managed decline of coal consumption.