New research has found that China, the world’s leading coal consumer and greenhouse gas emissions producer, established a stream of carbon intensive steel projects in 2021 using the Basic Methods of Fabrication, directly opposing the urgency of the global climate crisis and indicating a reluctance to inhibit economic development to fulfill its climate commitments.
Joint research by the US think tank Global Energy Monitor (GEM) and Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) found that in the first half of this year China introduced plans to construct 18 new steelmaking blast furnaces and 43 new coal-fired power plant units, more than in the entirety of 2020.
The research also found that construction began on 15 gigawatts of new coal power capacity and 35 million tons of new coal-based steel-making capacity in the first half of 2021.
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China has pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2060 but has no plans to cut its coal usage until 2026, indicating that its commitments may become increasingly unachievable. The research shows a planned rate of one plant construction per week, with the GEM-CREA report noting that “China’s ability to curb its CO2 emissions growth and realize its emission targets crucially depends on permanently shifting investments in the power and steel sectors away from coal.”
GEM’s coal programme director, Christine Shearer, said that “the rest of the world is getting the message that it’s time to move away from coal, but coal interests in China are dragging their feet, and the central government is not reining them in.”
Breaking: China’s power & steel firms continue to investments in coal-based capacity in 2021, even as emissions growth slowed down in the second quarter – new analysis by us and @GlobalEnergyMon.https://t.co/6Jdg2JYbsF pic.twitter.com/UPgNo1qIqi
— Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (@CREACleanAir) August 13, 2021
The damning research comes just days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report on the urgency of the climate crisis, warning of a “code red” for humanity to the catastrophic consequences that inaction will cause. China is yet to comment on the scathing IPCC report, which claimed that human influence on the climate crisis was now “unequivocal.”
China’s top climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, last week signaled a lack of intent to further the nation’s climate commitments, labeling China’s existing targets as “extremely arduous efforts.”
Despite the UN Secretary General’s claims that the IPCC report should signal a “death knell for coal and fossil fuels,” inaction from the worst polluting nation on the planet could have dire ramifications going forward for the rest of the world. The GEM-CREA report said that the findings now raise questions over whether the Chinese government “will welcome the cooling of emissions-intensive sectors or whether it will turn the tap back on,” a scenario that could see progress made by smaller nations in the global fight against climate change effectively nullified.
If construction goes ahead, the Financial Times reports that the carbon projects would emit approximately 150 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, the same levels as the entirety of the Netherlands.
The construction of coal-intensive projects in China shows a clear lack of understanding, or indifference, to the urgency of the global climate crisis. With the crucial COP26 climate conference coming up in just 76 days, a dynamic where the world’s leading emissions producer is undercutting efforts from other nations may well decisively impact critical negotiations at the UN conference.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo:Emissions Released From Factories Graphic. Featured Photo Credit: Pixabay.