China, the last government still financing overseas coal power plants, announces it will end funding for new coal fired power plants abroad. This is a nice announcement to hear, hopefully cutting off one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gases. Currently, more than a dozen countries mostly in Asia have coal fired power plants funded by China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing would stop building coal-fired power plants abroad, in a public commitment to redirect the country’s huge engineering industry away from adding to a source of global pollution https://t.co/dfiAFQ6gz8
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) September 22, 2021
For some host countries, partnering with China is the only way to draw energy from their own supply of coal. This is because China has an abundance of money, the steel mills that are needed to make coal power plants and the engineering expertise that many other countries don’t have.
President Xi Jinping made the announcement this week at the UNGA, while N.Y.C. where was also hosting Climate Week; and it will also resonate at the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow Scotland. This announcement comes after similar pledges made by Japan and South Korea earlier this year.
The announcement may hopefully create one of the largest transitions in energy funding from conventional to renewable. “Now all the major public financiers of coal have sent the signal that they are moving away from overseas coal,” said Kevin P. Gallagher, a professor of global development policy at Boston University, who has been tracking China’s global energy financing. “China’s announcement could be a step toward them catalyzing green transformations.”
China's President Xi Jinping has declared that his country stop building new energy projects abroad that use coal, a move that was immediately welcomed by the U.S. and the head of the U.N.' climate change conference https://t.co/0AJ211UhAU pic.twitter.com/3WesYO3mAz
— Reuters (@Reuters) September 22, 2021
This and the growing trend for investing in businesses that follow ESG standards are hopefully increasing the rate of green financing for green energy transitions.
Unfortunately, there is no exact timeline of when this is going into effect. Is this something China will live up and commit to or just a false promise?
While China has announced no more funding for overseas power plants, they are currently developing about 40 gigawatts of new coal power plant projects across 20 different countries that are in varying stages of development, according to Li Shuo, a policy adviser with Greenpeace China. One gigawatt is enough to power 750,000 homes or 110 million LED light bulbs, according to experts.
Also, this pledge does not mean that they won’t continue to develop coal power plants domestically. Last year, China built over three times more new coal power capacity than all other countries in the world combined, equal to “more than one large coal plant per week,” according to estimates from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland.
Related Articles: What’s The UN General Assembly Got to Do With It? | Internet Freedom at Risk: New Report Finds Deficit In Global Internet Rights | UN Opens for the First Time In Person Since the Beginning of the Pandemic
It doesn’t matter if coal power plants aren’t built in one place over the other. At the end of the day, the emissions know no borders and go up into the air affecting everybody.
China’s net construction of coal power capacity within the country grew by 29.8 gigawatts, essentially wiping out the gains of the rest of the world, where net coal power capacity decreased by 17.2 gigawatts, according to the Centre.
It is important for the UN and other nations to put pressure on China to live up to their pledges and stated goals addressing climate change as it is an increasingly threatening global problem. The world does not have the time and cannot afford any false hope on this issue.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: Coal Power Plant . Featured Photo Credit: Johannes Plenio