On the coal-rich plains of Inner Mongolia, thick white smoke curls from the huge chimney of a thermal coal power plant which the Chinese Communist Party had pledged to stop constructing two years ago. The huge Mengneng Xilin Thermal Power Plant's third unit, expected to deliver 700 megawatts of power to China's north, was ordered to cease construction in January 2017.
The order came from China's National Energy Administration as part of a government plan to eliminate millions of tons of "overcapacity" caused by a rush of approvals and the construction of "illegal" power plants. It is also part of President Xi Jinping's pledge to reduce the country's reliance on coal and reach peak carbon emissions by 2030. But even as China reiterated its commitment to reducing emissions last week in New York, earlier this month at least three large, new coal-fired power stations appeared to be either operating or under construction in Inner Mongolia in northern China -- including Mengneng Xilin.