As the world gears up for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop28), China’s stance on environmental commitments is under the microscope, revealing a stark contrast between its renewable energy achievements and its growing reliance on coal. Despite making significant strides in clean energy, China’s deep-seated dependence on coal-fired power plants casts doubt on its climate change promises, raising concerns about its true commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
In recent years, China has faced severe power shortages, highlighting the nation’s heavy reliance on coal as a primary energy source. This dependency has intensified with new coal power plant constructions, contradicting China’s pledge to peak CO2 emissions by 2030. Local governments, facing energy crises and prioritizing stability, continue to view coal as a reliable energy safety net. This approach directly conflicts with the global push towards reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
China’s commitment to reducing coal consumption is being tested by the need for stable energy supplies. The country has witnessed a surge in coal power capacity, with new constructions dwarfing those in the rest of the world. In fact, China has recently announced the approval of 106 Gigawatts of new coal plants, with likely more on the way.This expansion is partly driven by the notion of energy security, often prioritized over environmental concerns. Consequently, despite having excess coal power capacity, China continues toprefer ate commitments.
Any progress made by China in renewable energy is overshadowed by its accelerating investments in coal-based power. Even with a significant solar capacity, coal still dominates China’s energy mix, accounting for over half of its total energy consumption. This continued expansion of coal capacity steers the country off track from meeting its climate targets, undermining its notable achievements in clean energy generation.
Recent policy developments in China, such as the coal capacity compensation mechanism, suggest a double-down on coal, potentially incentivizing further coal plant constructions. This policy contradiction reveals a gap between China’s international climate pledges and its domestic energy practices. While the country boasts the largest solar capacity globally, its unabated coal consumption and approval of new coal-fired power plants paint a conflicting picture of its environmental priorities.
So look for China to say good words at COP28 about their commitments to motherhood and apple pie, but don’t count on actions that match.