China’s plan to build more coal-fired power plants undermines UK ambitions for Cop26 | Coal
China plans to build more coal-fired power plants and has hinted that it will rethink its emissions reduction schedule, which is a serious blow to the UK’s ambitions to secure a global agreement on the phase-out of the coal at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.
In a statement following a meeting of the Beijing National Energy Commission, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed the importance of a steady supply of energy, after swathes of the country were plunged into darkness by blackouts that hit factories and homes.
As China released plans to peak carbon emissions by 2030, the statement hinted that the energy crisis had led the Communist Party to rethink the timeline for that ambition, with a new “staggered timetable.” and a roadmap for peak carbon emissions â.
China has already made plans to be carbon neutral by 2060, with emissions peaking by 2030, a target that analysts say would involve shutting down 600 coal-fired power plants. President Xi Jinping also pledged to stop building coal-fired power plants abroad.
âEnergy security should be the premise on which a modern energy system is built and the capacity for energy self-sufficiency should be enhanced,â the statement said.
âGiven the predominant place of coal in the country’s energy and resource endowment, it is important to optimize the development of coal production capacity, to build advanced coal-fired power plants as needed based on development needs and continue to phase out obsolete coal. plants in an orderly fashion. National oil and gas exploration will be intensified. “
Beijing’s carbon dioxide production ambitions are seen as central to achieving zero net carbon emissions globally by 2050 and meeting the 2015 Paris agreement to limit the increase. average temperature at 1.5 Â° C. But Li said Beijing wanted to gather new evidence on when its maximum emissions would be reached.
The statement says it has commissioned “in-depth studies and calculations in light of the recent management of electricity and coal supply tensions, to come up with a phased schedule and roadmap for peak carbon emissions. “.
Li’s rhetoric follows reports that China has ordered its two main coal-producing regions, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia, to tackle the country’s electricity supply crisis.
Beijing’s renewed membership of coal – apparently at odds with Xi state’s climate ambitions – is likely to raise alarms as Cop26 approaches.
Alok Sharma, the British president-designate of Cop26, said an agreement to phase out coal-fired electricity was a key objective of the summit.
George Magnus, associate researcher at the China Center at the University of Oxford and author of Red Flags: Why Xi’s China is in Danger, said Beijing was forced to revise its plans in the face of real economic problems and blackouts.
âChina has fallen into an energy crisis in much the same way the rest of us have, but it is exacerbated by the fact that the grid and the power companies are subject to price controls and cannot not pass on prices, âhe said. âMany have decided to stop production and have had a lot of power outages for households and businesses. This is coming at a very bad time in China, in addition to [collapsed property giant] Evergrande and the property bust.
âThey essentially went back on their coal policy. With the upcoming Cop26, there is a lot of talk about the Chinese commitment to reach zero goals by 2050, but that’s another setback. It has happened before, when the economy was weaker during the pandemic, that they relaxed restrictions on coal capacity. Now they are starting over.
âIf the new releases last a few weeks, it might not matter that much. If this lasts until 2022 as China struggles to avoid poor economic performance ahead of its 20th CCP Party Congress in November 2022, climate policy optimists may have to rethink for sure. “