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China doubles down on coal plants abroad despite carbon pledge at home

April 27, 2021
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By Paul Homewood


China shows its true colours:


China will press ahead with its multi-billion-dollar financing of coal plants in developing countries, a top climate official said Tuesday, despite Beijing’s stated aim of slashing carbon emissions.

In 2020, China opened three-quarters of the world’s newly funded coal plants, according to the UK-based monitor CarbonBrief, and accounted for more than 80 percent of newly announced coal power projects.

At home, however, President Xi Jinping has pledged to wean China off coal with a peak carbon emissions target of 2030 – and achieve carbon neutrality thirty years later.

Those ambitious targets have been met with international praise.

But China’s overseas drive shows the complexity of untwining the economic drivers of coal power from environmental concerns.

"We cannot simply say that we’ll stop supporting coal-fired electricity plants in developing countries," Li Gao, head of the climate change office at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, told reporters.

"Combating climate change is also about letting people in developing countries live good lives."

Echoing Xi’s comments at a recent climate summit hosted by US President Joe Biden, Li said poorer nations still need coal to power their economies.

"This is wholly in response to (foreign countries’) actual needs, and we use very high standards (to build the plants)," he said.

Li also suggested that these countries were not sufficiently developed to be able to use renewable energy as their main sources of power.

China is the world’s biggest polluter and emits a third of greenhouse gases globally.

It has also continued to fund dozens of coal plants abroad, from Zimbabwe to Indonesia, and environmentalists say they are set to produce more emissions than major developed nations.

China is making the overseas coal play as part of its trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, a plan to fund infrastructure projects and increase its influence overseas.

In contrast, officials have pledged to "strictly control" coal use domestically to reach ambitious climate goals.

Just under 60 percent of power in China still comes from coal, but a new five-year national development plan unveiled in March set a target of generating 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2025.

China will continue to build smaller-scale coal plants to ensure reliable power supply across the grid, but their "emissions will not be as large" as traditional coal plants, according to Li.

"We will no longer continue large-scale development of coal-fired power plants, this is very clear."



What this shows is that China does not believe in any “climate crisis”. And it has very little intention of significantly reducing emissions anytime soon.

Meanwhile China is also fast tracking its shale gas industry:



During the first two months of 2021, the Chinese oil and gas giant Sinopec managed to bring 28 new shale gas wells on stream in the country. The company also announced that the shale gas production from its major Fuling field jumped by 20% compared to last year. And despite the recent collapse in oil and gas prices, as well as the uncertainty brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, Sinopec remains optimistic on the future of shale gas. Its latest achievement was the completion of the first phase of a new shale field in Weirong, adding 1 billion cubic meters per day of shale capacity.  This series of breakthroughs reveal a more global trend: a possible revolution in the Chinese shale gas sector. But in a country traditionally relying on conventional gas resources, how realistic is this “shale boom”?

A “coal to shale gas” switch?

The share of natural gas in China’s total energy consumption reached a modest 8% in 2019. However, this figure is expected to climb as a result of China’s strategy to move away from coal, resulting in rising industrial and residential gas consumption. One of the drivers of the rise in gas production is likely to be shale gas, which represented 6% of total gas production in the country in 2019.

Inspired by the fracking boom of the 2000s in the United States, China is eager to reproduce a similar trend domestically. Its proven geological reserves amount to 31 trillion cubic meters and are the world’s largest shale gas reserves, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Being the second country in the world to achieve shale gas commercialization, China expects its shale gas production to grow in the coming years, and already plans a 34 billion cubic meters output in 2021. To do so, it will rely on its main asset: the Sichuan basin, where it has bet on doubling shale gas production through 2025.

  1. Broadlands permalink
    April 27, 2021 7:38 pm

    And while the US and other western nations are doing the opposite by closing down fossil fuel energy supplies and major uses of these fuels, the Chinese have gone further to lock up major sources of the strategic minerals required for PV-EV vehicle batteries and other electronic devices. We will be left holding the proverbial bag by trying to put 44 units of CO2 into the 12 unit bag they came from to reach Net-zero and save the planet. Stupidity and ignorance on steroids?

  2. Dr Ken Pollock permalink
    April 27, 2021 8:10 pm

    Broadlands, I agree with you 100%! How can Western nations be so stupid? By the time we wake up, the Chinese will control the world – and I really mean CONTROL!!! Are we all in thrall to poor little ignorant Greta? Do we really believe models over historical records? I hope I live long enough to see some of our leaders admit their mistakes and change course…

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      April 27, 2021 8:54 pm

      Well, Ken, considering the fact that the US is now led by a geriatric Godfather of a crime family in hock to the CCP; the UK is run by a man in thrall to his Greenie partner and the Germans have more reliance on wind than is logical, you are right to think that Western nations are stupid.

  3. Mal F permalink
    April 27, 2021 9:05 pm

    Blimey, the bbc have a headline ‘April to be the frostiest for 60 years’, I can only presume someone managed to slip that through unseen by the project climate fear mob! It is actually correct as here in N Wales there’s a frost most mornings. I await with interest to see how it will be engineered to lay the blame on mankind for this warming reversal.

    • dave permalink
      April 28, 2021 9:38 am


      Not unseen perhaps, merely permitted.

      This fall back position – which conflates weather with climate, and affers that change of any kind is unnatural and catastrophic and attributable to ‘carbon’ and the modern way of life – has been prepared by the Marxists, who have completed their ‘Long March’ through the institutions of the West and are at the right hand of every decision maker. (Of course they are not at the right hand of the rulers of China. Any real Marxist there would be instantly liquidated!)

      The master propagandists and pullers of strings know how important it is to ‘constantly move the goalposts!’ and to ‘get your retaliation in first!’ Changing ‘Warming’ to ‘Changing’ in the headlines is working a treat for them.

    • Mad Mike permalink
      April 28, 2021 9:40 am

      Mal, they don’t talk about warming any more. It’s extreme weather now and that was a very smart move as almost any type of weather different from the average can be put in that category and certainly this episode of frosty mornings will do very nicely.

  4. Graeme No.3 permalink
    April 27, 2021 9:12 pm

    The increase in renewables for China will come from hydroelectricity. They are very keen on it – reliable, variable and with a long working lifetime.
    In any case, by 2060 (and probably 2025) the Climate Hysteria will be more about keeping warm.

  5. Penda100 permalink
    April 27, 2021 9:15 pm

    Reinforces the utter pointlessness of The UKs decarbonisation strategy and net zero targets.

  6. Andrew Harding permalink
    April 27, 2021 9:16 pm

    I seem to remember reading a few months ago that China was building over 50 new, huge coal-fired power stations! Now let me guess? They are doing this as an act of benevolence to make much poorer nations richer, because that is what Communist nations do!

    The cynic in me says that they are wanting to be the World’s dominant superpower, and to ensure that universal communism is the new future!

    Meanwhile the apologetic, deluded West let them get away with it and believe a lie that CO2 will result in an Apocalypse!

    You really could not make this s**t up, if you tried!

  7. Cheshire Red permalink
    April 27, 2021 9:49 pm

    If one follows the maxim of better in the tent than outside, then the West would’ve been far better accommodating Africa and the like with reliable coal and gas power stations, which would’ve at least given us some degree of control over the systems used, and future strategic control over their natural resources, which would’ve been secured as part of the funding and mutual development deals.

    Instead the West has conceded everything to China, literally everything. No sensible home-grown energy plan. No gas. No coal. No self-sufficiency. Chinese solar and wind. No African rare earth resources. The West importing everything, China exporting goods and importing dollars, pounds and Euros. This wasn’t hard to predict.

    China must be laughing their little yellow ding a lings off.

    • Sobaken permalink
      April 29, 2021 9:24 am

      These days the West wouldn’t even touch Africa with a stick, out of fear of being accused of colonialism.

  8. Coeur de Lion permalink
    April 27, 2021 10:14 pm

    Hooray for the poor! Well done China! I must tell the Synod of the Church of England about this Christian work while they disinvest from fossil fuels.

  9. Ardy permalink
    April 27, 2021 10:43 pm

    Just got an Indian video talking about China controlling the water in Asia, it is a must-see as it was a bit of a shock. They also own 13% of all the water in Australia.

  10. April 28, 2021 12:43 am

    China not doing what they told Biden?
    This is a mystery wrapped in an enigma!
    I’m going to have to put on my shocked face.

  11. April 28, 2021 6:12 am

    Yes sir. China’s “overseas drive” does indeed show the complexity of climate action now that the UN has failed to deliver the Montreal Protocol for climate change.

  12. Colin MacDonald permalink
    April 28, 2021 9:19 am

    Funny that China is going all out for coal and gas when the Graun tells us that wind and solar provide the cheapest electricity!

    • Mad Mike permalink
      April 28, 2021 9:50 am

      And that solar comes from China.

  13. cookers52 permalink
    April 28, 2021 9:25 am

    Off topic I am not suggesting this site gets involved in the covid mess, but by reason of personal adverse experience, I have looked into the AstraZeneca vaccine UK Government safety analysis, ie what you are told.

    The UK Gov analysis was done on the basis of incidence of 1 in 250 000 blot clots, the rest of the world reckon the incidence is between 1 in 40 000 to 1 in 100 000.

    After looking in detail at the data and methods used my conclusion is the rest of the world is correct. Paradoxically all the analysis for all the world is carried out by the Cambridge university Winton team the data is provided by governments.

    • dave permalink
      April 28, 2021 10:09 am

      The issue SEEMS to affect people with pre-existing problems with their platelet counts.
      It is unrealistic to have blood-work done before every medical procedure (and an injection of a foreign substance into the body is a medical procedure.) But most of us older people have historic tests in their records. I discovered a normal platelet count in mine.

      • cookers52 permalink
        April 28, 2021 11:56 am

        Even the best haematologist doesn’t know, but I can recognise dodgy analysis from experts operating without scrutiny.

        I predict a mess.

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