Wednesday 20 November 2019 5:08 pm

Rise in Chinese coal capacity threatens 2050 climate targets

China’s coal plant building programme could have a devastating impact on Paris 2050 climate targets, according to a new report by Global Energy Monitor (Gem).

Although between January 2018 and June 2019 countries outside of China reduced their total coal power capacity by 8.1 gigawatts, in the same period China increased its coal fleet by 42.9 gigawatts.

Read more: Renewables set to make up half of UK’s electricity production by 2025

An additional 121.3 gigawatts of power capacity from the fossil fuel is currently under development, enough to power the whole of France.

The US based research network said that the surge was the result of a spree of project permitting between 2014 and 2016, when regional authorities were given the authority to approve and build such projects.

In this period 245 gigawatts of new projects were put under development, almost as much as the entire US coal power industry. 

Gem said that the move to increase coal capacity through to 2035 were not compatible with attempts to limit the global temperature rise to below two degrees celsius.

China’s total coal-fired power capacity stands at more than 1,000 gigawatts, and Gem said it needed to close more than 40% of that to meet greenhouse gas reductions remain in line with the Paris targets.

It added that it also risked dashing plans which would see China hit peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

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To cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, China has promised an “energy revolution” aimed at dramatically reducing its reliance on coal. 

It cut coal’s share of the country’s total energy from 68% in 2012 to 59% last year, and researchers predict it will fall to 55.3% by 2020.

Absolute coal consumption, however, has continued to increase in line with a rise in overall Chinese energy demand.

Main image credit: Getty