China announces construction of more coal plants ahead of U.N. climate summit

Despite the United Nations warning that the climate crisis will spiral out of control by 2030 unless global emissions are cut in half, China plans to forge ahead with more coal power plants.

China announces construction of more coal plants ahead of U.N. climate summit
AP Photo/Olivia Zhang, File
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China does not appear to have any plans to enforce its climate targets and has instead announced plans to construct more coal power plants and intensify oil and gas exploration. China’s plans come ahead of the COP26 Summit where world leaders are expected to come to a consensus on the most ambitious cuts to carbon emissions.

Beijing’s National Energy Commission says it is necessary “to build advanced coal-fired power plants” and increase domestic oil and gas exploration. The statement comes after the country was hit with rolling blackouts last week.

China has already failed to meet its own commitments to reducing its impact on the climate, despite commitments made by other major economies. However, China has hinted that it is planning to pledge to cap carbon emissions by 2030.

COP26, which is set to take place in Glasgow, Scotland, will see world leaders turning up for a global agreement on phasing out coal as a power source.

Despite efforts by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other world leaders to transition to renewable energy resources, China has ordered its 682 coal mines to increase their annual output capacity to 55.3 million tons.

The Daily Mail reports that imports of coal have risen by 76 per cent in September, and the number is set to increase.

India, which has also lagged behind its commitments to reducing carbon emissions, has also ordered its mines to increase production amid power shortages and blackouts. The country is also increasing its own imports of coal.

China currently stands as the world’s worst polluter, producing more than 50 per cent of its energy from coal.

The United Nations warns that unless global emissions are cut by 50 per cent by 2030, the climate crisis will spiral out of control and produce wide-ranging disasters, including hurricanes and droughts.

Beijing’s supposed commitment to hitting peak emissions in 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2060 would require the closure of all 672 of its coal plants. China’s reckless balancing act comes in its increasing demand to be energy independent.

“Energy security should be the premise on which a modern energy system is built and the capacity for energy self-supply should be enhanced,” said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, according to The Guardian. “Given the predominant place of coal in the country's energy and resource endowment, it is important to optimize the layout for the coal production capacity, build advanced coal-fired power plants as appropriate in line with development needs, and continue to phase out outdated coal plants in an orderly fashion.”

“Domestic oil and gas exploration will be intensified,” he said.

China’s power demands have increased throughout the summer, with many factories suffering from power outages that have contributed to the worsening supply chain crisis.

The Chinese premier said that officials want to rethink their roadmap for reaching peak emissions and that the 2030 deadline may well be extended as a result of the increasing demands for energy amid the global power shortage.

China says that the power crunch, which began two weeks ago, occurred as a result of the increasing cost of coal and the reopening of the economy post-pandemic. Power stations were forced to operate at a loss and began to shut down, prompting China to import massive amounts of coal in September.

In response to the increased demands, China’s biggest coal-producing regions ordered their coal mines to increase their annual output capacity, and even allow coal mines that had already hit their maximum annual production levels to continue mining.

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  • By David Menzies

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