China goes back on coal policy despite upcoming Cop26 summit

To combat Global Warming, many countries have pledged to reach zero-net emissions by a specific date. Among these is China, which had set out plans to have its emissions peak by 2030, and be carbon neutral by 2060. However, China is now suffering through an energy crisis, with parts of the country experiencing frequent blackouts affecting homes and businesses alike.

Because of this, China has said that they plan to build more coal-fired power plants to solve this problem, and this is also leading the Communist Party to reevaluate the timing of its emission goals. This reconsideration will set back the UK’s ambitions for securing a global agreement on eliminating coal usage, one of the key aims of the Cop26 summit coming later this year.

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 “They have basically cycled back on their coal policy. With Cop26 coming up, there is a lot of talk about how committed the Chinese are to net-zero goals by 2050 but this is another setback. It has happened before, when the economy was weaker during the pandemic, that they relaxed restrictions on coal capacity. Now they are doing it again,” said George Magnus, a research associate at Oxford University’s China Centre.

“Energy security should be the premise on which a modern energy system is built and the capacity for energy self-supply should be enhanced,” said Li Keqiang, Premier of the People’s Republic of China, in a statement. Li explained how they appointed “in-depth studies and calculations in light of the recent handling of electricity and coal supply strains, to put forward a phased timetable and roadmap for peaking carbon emissions”.

Beijing’s push for Co2 output was critical in attempting to reach its zero-emission goal and to fulfill a 2015 agreement with Paris to limit rises in average temperature to only 1.5 Celsius. However, Li said that they wanted to gather new evidence on when they might actually reach peak emissions. 

China has instructed the country’s top two coal-producing regions, Inner Mongolia and Shanxi, to help combat the energy crisis, they plan to do things like opening new coal mines and re-opening old ones.


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