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28 September 2022

China too slow to cut off its coal plant pipeline, says report

A new report out last week claims that China is still building out its pipeline of overseas coal plants, despite promising to stop doing so at the last COP26 climate summit’

A report from the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, in conjunction with People of Asia for Climate Solutions, shows that the ban on overseas coal plants has not extended to projects where work had already begun.

The report cites 27 plants (23 GW) nearing completion at the time of the statement, and a further 14 plants (7.6 GW) where it was already too late and the plants have begun to operate – all of which are now likely to come online. Collectively these will produce some 140 million tons of CO2 each year.

The entire pipeline has been cut, but not zeroed and it’s still not clear which ones are entirely dead. It was 104 coal plants or 102 GW across 26 countries where either China provided the construction or the finance or both.

In March this year the pledge was written into the 14th 5 year plan, and so should be Chinese policy and should be followed strictly by the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also most of the target countries are seeing coal de-emphasized in their published energy plans, such as the one issued recently by Indonesia in its Energy Sector Roadmap for Net Zero by 2060.

If all of the proposed coal capacity was to be cancelled, it could result in an avoidance of 341 million tons of CO₂ emissions annually — equivalent to the United Kingdom’s energy sector CO₂ emissions in 2021.

Meanwhile India still plans to expand its coal power fleet by about a quarter through the end of the decade according to press quotes of the country’s power minister RK Singh, saying it plans to add 56 GW of coal power capacity unless there’s a substantial drop in the cost of storing electricity.

The report says that several countries outside of Asia have also virtually eliminated coal from their energy pipeline, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Djibouti, India, Indonesia, Ivery Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Turkey, the UAE, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

The report targets a further extensive list of projects which it says should be cancelled, but where the decision has yet to have been taken and this list includes projects in countries such as Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Serbia and the Ukraine.