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China Says Fossil Fuel Phase-Out Is Unrealistic

Phasing out fossil fuels is unrealistic as oil, natural gas, and coal will continue to play a crucial role in global energy supply and energy security, China's special climate envoy Xie Zhenhua said this week in a speech obtained by Reuters.

"It is unrealistic to completely phase out fossil fuel energy," Xie, who will represent China at COP28 in Dubai in November, told ambassadors in Beijing ahead of the climate summit.

China is the world's biggest consumer of coal and the largest importer of crude oil. Despite soaring renewable power capacity installations in recent years, China continues to consume growing volumes of coal, oil, and natural gas and continues to approve the construction of new coal-fired power capacity.

China, as well as India, has fought to have "phase down" instead of "phase out" in the language at all summits on climate and energy in recent years.

China is also building or planning to build some 366 gigawatts (GW) in new coal generation capacity, accounting for some 68% of global planned new coal capacity as of 2022.

This is according to a report earlier this year by climate think tank Global Energy Monitor, which also found that China accounted for more than half of the new global coal generation capacity that came online last year. 

During the first half of 2023 alone, China approved more than 50 GW of new coal power, Greenpeace said in a report last month. That's more than it did in all of 2021, the environmental campaign group said.

China is relying on coal to avoid blackouts as the economy reopened after the Covid lockdowns. During the first half of this year, coal production, coal imports, and coal-fired electricity generation surged and offset a significant decline in power output at China's massive hydropower capacity due to insufficient rainfall and drought.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for

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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.  More


  • Mamdouh Salameh - 22nd Sep 2023 at 9:20am:
    Three themes will continue to dominate both the global economy and the global energy scene well into the future: energy security, affordability and sustainability.

    The first is energy security. For countries of the world energy security and the needs of their economies will always trump climate change dictates. This means that fossil fuels will continue to drive the global economy well into the future. It also means that notions of energy transition and net-zero emissions are myths. That is why China the world’s largest economy based on purchasing power parity (PPP) is continuing to invest heavily in new electricity-generating coal plants. Still, China is the world’s largest investor in renewable energy.

    The second theme is affordability. The global economy needs affordable energy prices particularly fossil fuels to continue to grow, feed and support a world population projected to rise from 8.0 billion currently to 9.7 billion by 2050 and a global economy expected to grow from $147 trillion currently based on PPP to $245 trillion by 2050.

    The third theme is sustainability. The global economy can’t be sustained without fossil fuels. Renewables on their own are neither capable of sustaining global electricity needs nor of driving even a small economy.

    That is why a phase-out of fossil fuels is unrealistic, unworkable. destructive and ludicrous.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert
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