China plans to build more coal-fired power plants and has hinted that it will reconsider its schedule to reduce emissions, in a significant blow to the UK’s ambitions to secure a global deal on the phase-out of coal in the future. Climate summit cop26 in Glasgow.
In a statement after a meeting of the Beijing National Energy Commission, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed the importance of regular power supplies after swaths of the country were plunged into darkness by continuous blackouts hitting factories and homes.
Weather porcelain has published plans to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, the statement hints that the energy crisis has led the Communist Party to rethink the timing of this ambition, with a new “staggered timetable and roadmap for reaching peak emissions. carbon “.
China has set plans to be carbon neutral by 2060, with emissions peaking by 2030, a goal that analysts say involves the closure of 600 coal-fired power plants. President Xi Jinping also pledged to stop building coal plants abroad.
“Energy security must be the premise on which a modern energy system is built and the capacity for energy self-sufficiency must be improved,” the statement said.
“Given the predominant place of coal in the country’s energy and resource endowment, it is important to optimize the design of coal production capacity, build advanced coal-fired power plants as appropriate according to development needs, and continue to phase out coal. Obsolete plants in an orderly fashion. National exploration for oil and gas will be intensified. “
Beijing’s ambitions for carbon dioxide production are seen as critical in pushing for global net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and meeting the 2015 Paris agreement to limit average temperature increases to 1.5 ° C. But Li said Beijing wanted to collect new evidence on when its peak emissions would be reached.
The statement said it had commissioned “in-depth studies and calculations in light of the recent handling of electricity and coal supply stresses, to present a phased timetable and roadmap to reach a peak in carbon emissions.”
Li’s rhetoric follows reports that China has ordered its two main coal-producing regions, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia, to fight the country’s energy supply crisis.
Beijing’s renewed support for coal, seemingly at odds with the Xi state’s climate ambitions, is likely to cause alarm in the run-up to Cop26.
Alok Sharma, Chairman-designate of Cop26 in the UK, has said an agreement to phase out coal power it is a key objective of the summit.
George Magnus, Research Associate at the China Center, University of Oxford and author of Red Flags: Why Xi’s China is in Danger, said Beijing had been forced to review its plans in the face of the reality of economic problems and power outages.
“China has run into an energy crisis in the same way as the rest of us, but it is exacerbated by the fact that the grid and power companies are subject to price controls and cannot pass on prices,” he said. “Many have decided to shut down production and have had many power outages in homes and businesses. This has come at a very bad time in China, in addition to [collapsed property giant] Evergrande and the real estate bust.
“They have basically backtracked on their coal policy. With the upcoming Cop26, there’s a lot of talk about how committed the Chinese are to zero net goals by 2050, but this is another setback. It has happened before, when the economy was weakest during the pandemic, that they relaxed restrictions on coal capacity. Now they are doing it again.
“If the new relaxations last a few weeks, it may not matter as much. If it lasts until 2022, as China struggles to avoid poor economic performance ahead of its 20th key CCP congress in November 2022, optimists on climate policy may have to rethink it for sure. “