China's greater electricity generation from coal-fired power plants surpassed coal plant closures in the rest of the world over an 18-month period, despite Beijing's promises to curb emissions because of climate change.
The capacity of coal-fired plants worldwide, with the exception of China, decreased by 8.1 gigawatts (GW) from January 2018 to June 2019. However, China's coal plant capacity jumped by 42.9 GW over that period, according a report by U.S.-based Global Energy Monitor.
As a result, coal-fired power plants' total capacity around the world increased by approximately 34.9 GW during that period, the NGO said in its report titled Out of Step: China Is Driving the Continued Growth of the Global Coal Fleet released on Wednesday.
"As more countries turn away from coal and retire their plants, China’s continued pursuit of coal is increasingly out of step with the rest of the world, and is now effectively driving the ongoing expansion of the global coal fleet," it added.
Permits for coal projects in China soared from September 2014 to March 2016 when the country added new projects totaling 245 GW, equating to nearly the U.S.' entire coal capacity of 254 GW, according to the report.
In addition, 147.7 GW of coal plants in China at the moment are either under construction or planned to be revived from suspension. This capacity is almost equal to the existing 150 GW of coal power capacity of the European Union, it added.
- Against climate vows
While China's current total coal-fired power plant capacity stands at 1,027 GW, the country has plans to raise this up to 1,400 GW. This, however, is not commensurate with the promises made by major economies, including China, to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.
"An increase in China’s coal power capacity is not compatible with the Paris climate agreement to hold warming well below 2°C, and almost certainly forecloses the possibility of China achieving greater emission reductions under the Paris agreement -- currently pegged at peaking carbon dioxide emissions by 2030," the report said.
To meet the coal power requirements of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), China needs to lower its coal power capacity by over 40% from its current level of 1,027 GW to 600 GW or less to hold the global warming below 2°C, according to Global Energy Monitor's analysis.
"If China continues to increase total coal power capacity through 2035, its coal power generation alone will be more than three times as large as the global limit on coal power use determined by the IPCC to keep warming well below 2°C," the NGO warned.
By Ovunc Kutlu