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REPUBLIC OF CHINA

Climate love

China’s climate transition: Coal

While the scientists highlighted at COP28 the need for global greenhouse gas emissions to have a 43% reduction, China, as the world’s biggest emitter (around 31% of global GHG emissions), is aiming to reach an emission peak by 2030. To enable global emissions to peak fast enough, China needs to not only meet but exceed its current emissions commitments. 

Coal, as one of the most harmful pollutants, occupies around 70% of the total energy supply in China. In 2023, the total production reached 46.6 Billion tons. And more new coal plants are in the building process(check the chart below). Logically when you produce more, your emissions will keep rising. But other data tells us a surprisingly different story: that China’s coal plants are running less and less often.
If utilization rates continue to drop, China’s coal use could fall despite it adding more capacity. One of the critical reasons for that is the price, when more and more free solar and wind energy are pushing down the energy price, coal will become less and less profitable.

But why is China still opening more coal plants and producing more coal every year even if they don’t seem to need that much?

Many people have different stories about the answer, some say coal is taking on the role of “Peaker plant” and others say it’s the devolution of power plant approvals to the provincial level( Before 2014 it was approved by the central government).

We don’t yet know for sure whether China’s coal use is on the brink of a peak. If it continues to build low-carbon energy as quickly as it has over the last few years, it seems likely that solar and wind will cover all of its new demand. It’s still technically and economically possible for China’s coal use to go down while its installed capacity goes up. That’s a paradox that I think most people aren’t aware of. 

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The percentage of used renewable energy VS total used energy from 2019-2023.


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The main energy products in 2023 and their increased % compare 2022 (top to bottom: Coal, Oil, Gas, Renewable energy: fire, water, nuclear, wind, solar)




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12 more agrees trigger social media ads

  • We Don't Have Time

    5 w

    Dear Vermeer Xie Your climate love has received over 50 agrees! We have reached out to REPUBLIC OF CHINA by email and requested a response. I will keep you updated on any progress! To reach more people and increase the chance of a response, click the Share button above to share the review on your social accounts. For every new member that joins We Don't Have Time from your network, we will plant a tree and attribute it to you! /Adam, We Don't Have Time

    4
    • Elizabeth Gathigia

      5 w

      China being the biggest polluter, it has to do away with coal production completely, and focus more on investing in clean energy

      3
      • Richard S

        5 w

        Eat #Coal

        2
        • George Kariuki

          5 w

          Let's keep watching! Can China truly transition away from coal while meeting its energy demands?

          3
          • walter lungayi

            5 w

            Building more coal plants instead of adopting renewable energy in China contradicts global efforts towards sustainability and climate change mitigation. Embracing renewable energy sources would be more beneficial for the environment and future generations.

            4
            • Esther Wanjiku

              5 w

              China has been very active on adding new capacity for their coal investments and it would really make a difference if they adopted a fast mode to limit emissions.

              6
              • Princess

                5 w

                The shift towards renewable energy sources like solar and wind is promising, and it's great to hear that coal utilization rates are decreasing despite the addition of new capacity.

                6
                • Munene Mugambi

                  5 w

                  As we are past the industrial revolution, we should also be past coal exploration. China has to reinvest in the green energy sector as they have the ability to

                  4
                  • Jane Wangui

                    5 w

                    @munene_mugambi Caol will soon be a thing of the past.It is just a matter of time.

                    1
                  • Chris Ndungu

                    5 w

                    It's high time China to stop investing in coal. It should feel shame as it is one of the Super Power country that opt to lead the developing country in Asia. Due to this, China will image a bad image to those countries.

                    5
                    • Boniface Kuria

                      5 w

                      It is not just about reduction, China should strive to end emissions in totality. As the biggest emitter on the world is shameful

                      9
                      • Felix mokaya

                        5 w

                        China should fully stop investing on coal .This might just be a trick to confuse or make other people believe that China is burning less coal and is on the way to make an end to coal .Why don't it just stop once and for all

                        11
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