China doubles down on coal as energy crunch bites (France 24 – September 18, 2022)

Beijing (AFP) – China has stepped up spending on coal in the face of extreme weather, a domestic energy crunch and rising global fuel prices — raising concerns Beijing’s policies may hinder the fight against climate change.

The country is the world’s biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases driving global warming, and President Xi Jinping has vowed to reduce coal use from 2026 as part of a broad set of climate promises. Beijing has committed to peaking its carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.

Overall carbon emissions in China have fallen for four consecutive quarters on the back of an economic slowdown, research reported by climate monitor Carbon Brief showed in early September. But at the same time, slowing growth has led authorities to rely on smokestack industries in an effort to boost the economy.

The push to shore up coal power — which still makes up most of China’s energy supply — has alarmed analysts who warn that it will make an eventual transition to a renewables-dominated energy mix more difficult. Spooked by an energy shortage last autumn, Chinese authorities in spring ordered coal producers to add 300 million tonnes of mining capacity this year — the equivalent of an extra month of coal production for the country.

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