Biden’s Green Envoy John Kerry Praises China’s Climate Progress Despite Beijing’s Coal Boom

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Jack McEvoy Energy & Environment Reporter
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President Joe Biden’s Climate Envoy John Kerry praised China for going beyond its commitments to combat climate change in an interview with the Financial Times released on Tuesday despite the country’s ramping up of coal usage to achieve energy security.

China has “outperformed its commitments” to curb carbon emissions and embrace renewable energy, Kerry told the FT. At the same time, Beijing is currently constructing new emissions-heavy coal power plants and has indicated that it will increase its coal consumption for several years as it works to fuel its economy and avoid blackouts, according to a July Greenpeace report. (RELATED: John Kerry Says US ‘Absolutely’ Doesn’t Need Oil, Gas Drilling)

“They had said they will do X, Y and Z and they have done more,” Biden’s climate envoy told the FT.

Although Chinese President Xi Jinping announced plans to roll back China’s coal consumption in April 2021, Chinese provincial governments approved plans to add a total of 8.63 gigawatts (GW) of new coal power plants in the first quarter of 2022 alone, equal to 46.55% of the total capacity approved in 2021, according to the report. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also called for boosting coal supplies in April to ensure energy security amid the rise of global energy shortages, stating that coal production should be increased by 300 million tonnes in 2o22, up 7% from 2021’s output of 4.1 billion tonnes, according to the South China Morning Post.

China’s domestic coal mining is nearing record levels and its imports of coal from Russia reached a new high last month, according to The New York Times.

Kerry also praised China’s efforts to embrace green energy, according to the FT.

“China is the largest producer of renewables in the world,” Kerry said of China’s renewable energy push. “They happen to also be the largest deployer of renewables in the world.”

“While it’s true that China controls a majority of clean energy markets, fighting climate change and reducing emissions is not their priority,” American Conservation Coalition Executive Vice President Danielle Butcher told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

A view of the Wujing coal-electricity power station is seen across the Huangpu River in the Minhang district of Shanghai on August 22, 2022. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Beijing is increasing its use of fossil fuels to alleviate blackouts and power its economy amid drought problems that are reducing its hydroelectric power generation, the NYT reported.

“China’s emissions are more than the U.S. and the E.U. combined,” Butcher stated. “The bottom line is, China is no climate role model.”

China was the world’s largest carbon emitter in 2019 and accounted for roughly 27% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Rhodium Group. Coal, which generated 56% of China’s energy in 2021, emits about twice the amount of greenhouse gases as natural gas, an energy source that is widely used in the U.S. and Europe.

China recently refused to engage in climate negotiations with the U.S. in August after Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, the FT reported.

The White House did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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