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China Tells COP27: We Need More Coal And Won’t Make Europe’s Mistakes

china coal pollution

China’s plans to add to its world-leading fleet of coal power plants are a short-term Band-Aid to address energy security concerns and don’t represent a shift in emissions policies, according to members of the team representing the nation at the COP27 summit.

New plants are being planned to address a spate of high-profile electricity shortages in recent years while providing a buffer to global energy markets that have become more volatile following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to interviews with three of China’s delegates at the climate meeting in Egypt. [emphasis, links added]

In the long run, electricity market reforms and massive investments in renewable power and energy storage will eventually curb and curtail coal use, allowing the country to hit its targets of peaking emissions by 2030 and zeroing them out by 2060, they said.

The strategy underscores China’s desire to avoid the kind of energy crisis facing Europe, but it has set off alarm bells for climate scientists who say the fuel needs to be phased out by 2040 to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

“We need an energy transition that’s high-quality and secure so it can be sustained,” said Li Zheng, a climate change and energy professor at Tsinghua University.

We don’t want to be like Europe and transform at the cost of energy security. They are now declaring that they are taking a step back in order to take two steps forward later.”

The climate researchers downplayed the size of the expansion, saying the country’s total coal capacity wouldn’t change much because of simultaneous retirements of older plants.

Earlier this year, an executive from China’s top energy engineering firm said he expects the nation to approve 270 gigawatts worth of new plants through 2025, more than the entire fleet in the US.

Coal has long been China’s mainstay fuel and still accounts for about 60% of the country’s power generation.

Read rest at Bloomberg

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