“China has no choice but to rely on coal at the moment.”

China aims to achieve economic growth of at least 6% of GDP this year. In order to achieve its long-term growth goals, China will continue to depend on coal for a while. Su Wei, deputy secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission, said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced in September that his country’s carbon emissions will start to decline from 2030 and will eventually become carbon neutral by 2060. Although it will not be easy to achieve this goal. After all, many policymakers have already indicated that economic growth remains the top priority. That is while the Chinese economy relies mainly on energy from coal. The Chinese government aims to achieve economic growth of 6% of GDP by 2021.

Coal as a major source of energy

Coal power dominates the energy structure in China. “This is an objective fact,” Su Wei said last week. Currently, renewable energy sources, such as windmills, are intermittent and unstable. We must be able to count on a stable power source. We have no other choice. For a while we may have to use charcoal as a flexible energy source. He added that coal is readily available, while China’s renewable energy needs further development.

Meanwhile, China also continues to invest in foreign coal mines. Li Gao, director general of the ministry’s Department of Climate Change, said in an interview with CNBC that China is doing so because many developing countries lack electricity. Gao told me, “What can you do in a situation like this without charcoal?”

According to Boston University’s Center for Global Development Policy, the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China jointly funded $ 474 million in coal sector projects outside China. However, the same report indicated that China’s financing for energy projects outside its borders has been steadily declining since 2016.

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China is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide

Li Gao said coal accounted for 56.8 percent of China’s domestic electricity generation in 2020, up from 72.4 percent 15 years ago. Last year, China was the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, according to the Federation of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit organization founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The United States ranked second and India ranked third.

At the climate summit held last week, Xi called for international cooperation to reduce carbon emissions, adding that different countries should play different roles in this reduction. China will strictly monitor projects that produce a lot of carbon dioxide. We will also work to limit the increase in coal consumption over the next five years. “We will cut emissions for the next five years,” the Chinese president said.


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