søndag 14. november 2021

When Will China Get Off Coal?

With COP26 entering its second and final week, Xi Jinping has faced criticism for failing to attend the climate conference in person, and for offering no major new pledges. China’s latest quarterly economic report shows a significant slowing of growth, with GDP increasing only 4.9 percent compared with 7.9 percent in the previous period. Among the several factors causing this slowdown, perhaps the most significant in a global context is widespread electricity shortages in key manufacturing areas.

As China looks to meet its energy demands, there has been a rush for coal, with prices hitting record highs in October. Despite pledges by Beijing to pull back from fossil fuels, the power crisis has exposed shortfalls in the country’s ability to meet its manufacturing needs. Coal still supplies more than half the nation’s power. When more than 40 countries last week signed a pledge to phase out coal, China (along with the U.S. and India) was noticeably absent.

Can China ever hope to meet its energy needs without relying on dangerous fossil fuels? What are the implications for the global effort to combat climate change?