The Environmental Emergency is Escalating

Amid the escalating climate crisis, China increases coal-fired power capacity.

Extreme weather events are rocking more parts of the world. Whether it’s wildfires in the U.S., flooding in Germany, or heavy rains in China, the extent of climate change is becoming increasingly apparent. Experts are certain that the extreme events are directly related to man-made carbon emissions.

Governments must act now to counteract it. The UN has also come to the same conclusion. The UN urges that commitments are not enough, the transformation must start now[1]. The message seems to have gotten through. Governments in Europe and the US are concretizing plans to phase out fossil fuels, especially coal power.

The coal powerhouse

China is considered the world’s largest consumer of coal. The country has only recently published plans for 18 new blast furnace projects and 43 new coal-fired power plants. According to estimates, the projects would emit 150 million tons of CO2 per year. Construction of 15GW of coal-fired capacity already began in the first half of the year, and another 24GW have been announced.

After the end of the 2020 lockdown, coal-fired power in China increased by 15% and steel production by 14% compared to the pre-Covid-19 period.

Steel and electricity production are important components for China’s economic growth. At the same time, they are also China’s largest CO2 emitting sector.

China is considered the largest driver of greenhouse gas emissions this century.

Understanding the signs of the times

China made a commitment to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2060 and to reach peak emissions by 2030.

Analysis conducted by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and the Global Energy Monitor (GEM) shows that CO2 emissions slowed in the second quarter of 2021. In recent months, Beijing’s focus appeared to have shifted to limiting CO2 emissions and controlling financial resources.

However, this is where the whole dilemma becomes apparent and shows the fine line between economic growth and decarbonization in the country.[2]

Article Sources

[1] United Nations, https://racetozero.unfccc.int/we-need-to-start-transforming-now/

[2] Global Energy Monitor (GEM) & Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), (August 2021), China’s power & steel firms continue to invest in coal even as emissions surge cools down

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