Xi Jinping’s bid for world climate leadership might be more palatable if China were not building a new coal plant every two weeks or adding more gigawatts of coal power each year than the rest of the world combined. In February, China’s National Energy Administration relaxed its “traffic light” system on permitting for new coal plants, opening the way for a construction blitz in the early 2020s. The small province of Jiangxi has a green light to double its coal power capacity over the next five years, adding 22 gigawatts (GW), or another Turkey. Ecologists call it the “green leap backwards”. At the same time China is pitching for supremacy in renewable technology and electric vehicles. This has more to do with the strategic ambitions of “Made in China 2025” than mitigating climate change. I have no doubt that China will achieve peak emissions long before 2030 and net zero long before 2060, not because Xi Jinping says so, or because the next 14th Five Year Plan makes all the right noises, but because that is the relentless logic of the technology shift and the cost curve. So is China a climate villain or a climate champion? Sorry to be Jesuitical, but it is both.
Telegraph 30th Sept 2020 read more »