One nation alone, China, accounts for more than 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal. China is not joining the world in this commitment and instead promises to increase building coal fired power plants to meet soaring power demand.
To boost coal output, China has “revived old mines, hurried through permits for expansions and loosened some safety regulations. They’ve also stepped in on prices to ensure electricity generators are incentivized to fully use power plant capacity.” (Bloomberg)
China is also seeking to increase imports of foreign coal. China’s demand for the fossil fuel in the power and industrial sectors could break the country’s 2013 record for emissions from coal.
“Coal-fired power accounts for roughly 60% of China’s total electricity generation. Over the first three quarters of 2021, China’s power generation expanded by 11% on the year, but power consumption grew by 13% as heavy industry and manufacturers cranked up output as coronavirus pandemic restrictions eased.” (Reuters)
More than 90% of the 195 coal plants being built around the world are in Asia, and this year, coal demand is set for a new record.
In 2020, carbon dioxide emissions fell by a record 1.9 billion tonnes – a 5.4% drop – as countries locked down and economies ground to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic. The new report, produced by the Global Carbon Project, forecasts emissions will rise by 4.9% this year.
Nevertheless, the International Energy Agency said that, if the emissions-cutting pledges made so far were all fulfilled, the rise in the global temperature could be limited to 1.8 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times.
This would be a significant step towards the 1.5C the United Nations says is needed to halt potentially irreversible climate effects that would dwarf the intensifying storms, heatwaves, droughts and floods that the world is already experiencing.
In September, China said it would stop funding overseas coal plants, although the pledge did not cover domestic projects. China has almost half of the more than 2,600 coal plants operating or under construction in the world.