China’s not as “green” as many environmental activists would have you believe. China’s government issued permits for 155 coal-fired power plants in the first nine months of this year alone — this is a pace of about one coal plant permit every two days.
“In the first nine months of this year, state-owned companies received preliminary or full approval to build the 155 coal power plants that have a total capacity of 123 gigawatts,” The New York Times reports, citing a new report by Greenpeace. “That capacity is equal to 15 percent of China’s coal-fired power capacity at the end of 2014.”
Greenpeace’s data suggests China may not be taking its global warming pledge too seriously. China’s President Xi Jinping promised to peak emissions around 2030, though the country’s economic plan calls for using more coal as well as more green energy.
China is the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter and crucial to President Barack Obama’s dream of getting a United Nations climate treaty this year, but reports keep coming out showing China shows no signs of weaning itself off coal power any time soon.
Greenpeace and other environmental groups have argued China’s slight decline in coal use shows the country’s economic growth is decoupling from coal use. But China’s data isn’t always very reliable, and other reports suggest China is using up to 17 percent more coal than previously thought.
China’s slowing economy, on the other hand, is cutting coal demand and endangering the economic viability of many of the coal plants permitted by the government this year.
Environmentalists may think this is a positive development, but lagging growth could end up making China more reliant on coal.
“I think low growth makes it more difficult to achieve their target,” Shoichi Itoh with Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) told The Daily Caller News Foundation last year.
“They want to reduce energy consumption and emissions for their own purposes,” Itoh said. “If Chinese economy slows down, they can’t expect people to pay more for energy. So people might lose their appetite for reducing emissions.”
U.N. delegates are set to meet in Paris in the coming weeks to hash out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Obama hopes the summit will yield a global agreement to cut carbon dioxide emissions, but China could once again complicate things.
“It’s created a lot of bewilderment,” Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research, said of news that China’s CO2 emissions were way higher than initially estimated.
“Our basic data will have to be adjusted, and the international agencies will also have to adjust their databases,” he said. “This is troublesome because many forecasts and commitments were based on the previous data.”
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