China Fuels Coal Renaissance As Trump Weighs Global Warming Treaty

REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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China is generating more electricity than ever from coal-fired power plants and backing the construction of about one dozen coal plants in Pakistan over the next 15 years.

Chinese statistics show coal power generation hit a record 396.1 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in March, which is nearly 8 percent above coal generation the previous year. That came after China generated a record-breaking 385.6 billion kWh in December 2016, Platts reported.

At the same time, China entered into a joint venture with Pakistan that is “expected to spend around $15 billion over the next 15 years to build close to a dozen coal power plants of varying sizes around the country,” Reuters reported.

Environmentalists have opposed the deal, but officials have said the new coal plants will use “supercritical” technology, which drastically cuts down on traditional pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions.

“The latest coal power plants (will) be as clean as gas-based power generation,” Pakistani minister Ahsan Iqbal told Reuters. “(They) require less coal per megawatt-hour, leading to lower emissions, including carbon dioxide and mercury, higher efficiency and lower fuel costs per megawatt.”

The coal plants are part of a $33 billion agreement between China and Pakistan to electrify the region, which Iqbal said is needed to “meet the country’s energy needs for several decades, for powering the country’s economic wheel, creating new jobs, and fighting spiking unemployment and poverty.”

Interestingly enough, this is pretty much exactly what China said it would do to fight global warming and cut emissions.

China pledged to “peak” total greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 or earlier while reducing its emissions to gross domestic product ratio. The Obama administration hailed the move as a coup, despite the fact that China promised to ramp up its coal use.

The news comes as President Donald Trump weighs pulling out of the Paris agreement on climate change, which former President Barack Obama joined in 2016. Trump promised to ditch the agreement on the campaign trail, but his administration is split on whether or not to follow through on the pledge.

Recent reports suggest Trump is leaning towards ditching the agreement, but K street lobbyists expect the administration to remain in the accord but with a modified pledge.

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