China promotes coal to boost economy, but this is not a good sign for reducing emissions

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China is the largest investor in wind and solar. But, jittery leaders urged for more coal-fired energy after last year’s plunge in economic growth

China promotes coal-fired power in its attempt to revive a slow economy. This has led to warnings that Beijing is hindering efforts to reduce climate-changing carbon emissions, which is the largest global source.

According to news reports official plans call on increasing coal production capacity by 300,000,000 tons in the coming year. That is equal to 7% of last year’s output of 4.1 billion tons, which was an increase of 5.7% over 2020.

China is the largest investor in wind and solar. But jittery leaders demanded more coal-fired power, after last year’s slump in economic growth and subsequent shortages that caused blackouts. Russia’s attack on Ukraine added to anxiety that foreign oil and coal supplies might be disrupted.

“This mentality of ensuring energy security has become dominant, trumping carbon neutrality,” said Li Shuo, a senior global policy adviser for Greenpeace. “We are moving into a relatively unfavorable time period for climate action in China.”

Officials are under political pressure to ensure stability, as President Xi Jinping plans to challenge tradition and grant himself a third five years term as ruling party chief in the autumn.

Coal is important for “energy security,” Cabinet officials said at an April 20 meeting that approved plans to expand production capacity, according to Caixin, a business news magazine.

The ruling party is also building power plants to inject cash into the economy to revive growth, which fell to 4% in the last quarter of 2021 compared to 8.1% in the full year.

The pledges of governments to reduce the atmospheric temperature to 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit) has been made. This is a significant reduction from the level in pre-industrial times. Leaders insist that they only want a limit on temperature rises of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

Scientists claim that even if the planet reaches the 2-degree temperature goal under the 2015 Paris climate deal and the 2021 Glasgow follow up agreement, this will still result in higher seas, stronger storms and more deaths from heat, smog or other infectious diseases.

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