According to “The New York Times,” on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, a report created by Greenpeace East Asia was released slamming China for creating more coal-fired power plants. This came after China signed a new climate change policy in 2014. This policy resulted in China pledging to bring their renewable energy usage up to 20 percent by 2030. These changes began after it was clear China was the biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world.
Greenpeace went on to explain, China was on track to add one additional coal-fired power plant a week until the year 2020. It is believed this is due to the country’s issues related to overcapacity. The Beijing-based coal campaigner for Greenpeace is Lauri Myllyvirta. The “Financial Times” reported that Myllyvirta stated: “China is going in the wrong direction related to financial, economic, and environmental reforms.” Myllyvirta and Greenpeace are concerned because China has still not reduced their emissions, two years after their climate change policy was put in place, and are still unable to meet the air quality standards.
It has been suggested, the utilization rates in China have been depressed by power capacity. This has been the result of the global economic slowdown and the increased competition related to all forms of energy, including renewable options. Overcapacity is bogging down many of China’s business sectors, including steel and petrochemicals.
Greenpeace has raised the question, why China has doubled down on its climate change policy and done exactly what it was not supposed to do? The Daily Caller claimed, currently, there are 2,400 coal-fired power plants under construction around the world. Among these plants, 1,171 are being built in China. This explains why Greenpeace is slamming China; they are creating more coal-fired power plants instead of strategically reducing their emissions as promised.
In June 2015, China reasserted their climate change plan with the United Nations. They also publically pledged to reduce their coal use, even though they have not yet been successful. It has been argued that it was China’s pledge which allowed President Barak Obama’s United Nations climate deal to be ratified in December 2015. China first signed their climate policy in 2014, but in 2015, China’s power capacity went up 7.8 percent but their consumption only increased by a half of a percent. Greenpeace has addressed the fact this has been an ongoing trend in the 21st century because China’s coal consumption has grown by a factor of three since the year 2000.
Greenpeace has brought attention to China’s coal abuse because they have done nothing to help with the climate change issue. The planned coal-fired power plant construction boom is expected to result in an overcapacity level of about 400 gigawatts. This is the equivalent of one trillion renminbi or $150 billion in unneeded plants. Greenpeace has pledged to help China reach their goal of 20 percent renewable energy usage by 2030.
However, Greenpeace has continued to slam China for creating more coal-fired power plants because China will not reach their 20 percent goal with their current plans and intended projects. China will be unable to increase their capacity until the additional coal-fired power plants are no longer necessary.
According to Greenpeace, the renewed interest in coal-fired power plants is counterproductive to the assembly and use of renewable forms of energy, including solar, hydro, and wind power. It has been addressed that China needs to look beyond the profitability of energy, make the promised changes to reduce their emissions and meet quality air standards for Greenpeace to continue funding projects.
In inner Mongolia, residents have been disrupted and displaced by the construction of all the power plants. This has made the lives as herders difficult. China consumes approximately half of the coal used around the world and relies on coal for 66 percent of their energy use. The real question here is, why did the Chinese government stop approving new wind power plant projects? This question is especially puzzling in one of the windiest regions of the country. It has been addressed that in 2015, 15 percent of the Chinese wind power was wasted. Similar to coal, it is the overcapacity which stops their systems from working optimally.
By Kristina Lasher
Edited by Jeanette Smith
The New York Times: China Pledged to Curb Coal Plants. Greenpeace Says It’s Still Adding Them
Financial Times: Greenpeace warns over China’s excess power capacity
The Daily Caller: Greenpeace Shocked China Is Putting Another $150 Billion Into Coal Power
Image Courtesy of Bill Benson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License