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China will stop building new coal power plants abroad, President Xi Jinping said at this week’s virtual UN meeting.
“China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad,” Xi said as quoted by Bloomberg.
The report notes that more than 70 percent of coal power plants built today globally relies on funding from China. This means that Xi’s pledge will reverberate around the world. Yet it will continue building coal power plants at home, the Financial Times noted, reporting that several dozen such projects were announced in just the first half of 2021.
“This is an important development, as China has been one of the biggest financiers of coal infrastructure in developing countries, particularly in Asia,” the FT quoted a climate advocacy representative as saying. However, to really help bring emissions down, China must also stop building new coal capacity at home, Alden Meyer from E3G also said.
A recent study revealed that between 2013 and 2019, some $42 billion was invested in new coal-fired power generation capacity in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Of the total sum, China accounted for 40 percent.
“We continue to see significant investment in coal-fired power generation in countries with high rates of energy poverty,” said Olivia Coldrey, from one of the organizations behind the study, SEforALL. “These countries need affordable, reliable and clean energy to support their socio-economic development and to mitigate climate change. Financing new coal projects is inconsistent with these objectives and holds back the energy transition.”
That may be true, but it was a Chinese government official that said earlier this year that China won’t rush to retire its coal power plants because they provided a reliability of electricity supply that is still out of reach for wind and solar installations.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com