As nations gear up for a crucial year for climate talks, it has become increasingly clear that success may rest on one question: how quickly China can reduce its reliance on coal and the financing of coal-fired power plants abroad. will it end?
China represents more than a quarter of all global carbon emissions, and have spent billions of dollars to make coal power facilities In 152 countries through this in the last decade Belt and Road Initiative. About 70% of coal plants built globally now depend on Chinese funding.
This is a problem for the climate. international energy agency warns in a new analysis that if the world hopes to reach net zero emissions by 2050, it is widely believed to be necessary to meet Paris climate agreement The goal should be no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects or in new coal-fired power plants that do not capture their carbon emissions. Shortly after that report came, G7 group of major industrialized democracies called to end For international financing of coal projects unimpeded on May 21, 2021.
The US President’s special climate envoy John Kerry was explicitly asked about China’s progress on climate change when he testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in mid-May.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called climate change a “crisis” during the world leaders’ summit on climate change a few weeks ago, but Kerry said talks between the two countries increased “too hot”“On China’s continued insistence on funding coal-fired power plants around the world.
Although he refrained from saying it outright, Kerry made the US position clear: China’s climate pledge would not be credible or valid unless it halted funding of foreign coal. “We hope you see that as legitimate, we have five more months left to give us some hugs,” he told. “We’re not there yet.”
Turning off some coal at home, but manufacturing overseas
China has been the world’s largest emitter of carbon for 20 years. It has been responsible for 28% of the world’s carbon emissions for the past decade. that number does not move, despite the rapid development of China’s renewable energy and clean technology industries.
One of the central reasons is coal, most carbon-intensive fossil fuels. Coal accounts for 58% of China’s primary energy consumption Most recently 2019. In form of Even if coal use is falling elsewhere. China currently operates 1,058 coal plants, which is almost half of all coal plants worldwide. To meet even their modest climate goals, more than half of them will have to be shut down For a recent analysis by TransitionZero, a US-based thinktank.
China has incentives to cut emissions. Air pollution has baffled some of its biggest cities Dozens of old coal facilities closed In recent years, more subsidies have been given renewable energy projects, both domestically and globally.
But despite this progress, China Still building new coal plants.
It has taken a strategic decision to export its industrial and manufacturing products across the world as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. Japan and South Korea, which traditionally finance foreign coal projects, have started Leave them, and China sees the opportunity. Nearly all of the 60 new coal plants planned in Eurasia, South America and Africa—70 gigawatts of coal power—are funded Different from all by Chinese banks.
It is clear that China is grappling with concerns about energy security and economic growth. so the analysts were was surprised when Xi announced At the end of 2020 that China would be carbon neutral by 2060, a decade ahead of the plan, and ensure that its carbon emissions peaked before 2030.
Such effort would be required heavy investment technology such as renewable energy, electric cars and carbon capture and storage. Nothing will be easy for China out of this. As of recent, the country has made little progress on reducing emissions Reports from organizations including the International Energy Agency.
Seasoned climate negotiators are looking at what China does with coal today – not just what it promises 10 or 20 years into the future.
US-China climate ties were central to reaching the Paris climate agreement, said Todd Stern, former US climate negotiator, where is. Failure to revive such engagement would “have serious national security consequences in the United States and around the world.”
Shortly before the recent World Leaders Summit on Climate Change, the United States and China agreed to work together again on the climate issue, and US President Joe Biden Ambitious new climate plans announced
But it is not action. The world would expect both to commit to further measurable actions United Nations Climate Summit in November. Countries are expected to strengthen their promises this year – hopefully enough to keep global warming under control.
I worked Both the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have been involved in climate change issues for many years. It is clear that if China and the US do not lead, the world will not be on track to meet the Paris climate goals.
China has reason to cooperate on climate change
China is already planning a world in which fundamental natural resources such as water and food become scarce due to climate change. For example, when China saw a major threat to its ability to grow enough soybeans, partly due to climate change, it almost stopped importing soybeans. import more than half Soybeans sold on Earth. I outline the reasons for this tectonic change in my book “This is the way the world ends“
China also sees economic opportunity in solving the climate crisis. it’s mining raw material Required for battery storage solutions at the heart of a global renewable energy industry; building cheap electric vehicles As soon as possible for domestic and foreign consumers; and aggressively subsidize solar panel manufacturing And exporting those panels to all over the world.
China lost the race for the technological revolution that defined the global economy of the 20th century. It does not intend to lose sight of the renewable energy and clean tech revolution that will define the 21st.
But even that imperative hasn’t stopped China from funding the world’s dependence on coal-fired electricity. This is why climate negotiators expect China to do more than make promises for the future. Ending coal financing overseas would be a serious first step in that direction.
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