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Despite COP26 rhetoric, China’s coal production is hitting all time highs

Despite COP26 rhetoric, China’s coal production is hitting all time highs
The Washington Post, 15 November 2021

Coal production in China has surged to its highest level in years even though Beijing promised to phase down use of the fossil fuel at the United Nations climate summit, where leaders lauded a new climate deal as the “death knell” for coal power.

China, the world’s largest polluter and consumer of coal, produced 357 million tons of coal in October, a level not seen in six years, according to data released Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics. In the grips of an energy crisis, China has ramped up coal production to address power shortages, stressing that energy security is the government’s top priority.

Beijing’s continued reliance on coal, which accounts for more than half the country’s power generation, reflects the country’s competing priorities. China has promised to peak its carbon emissions before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, while raising its share of non-fossil-fuel energy consumption. Chinese President Xi Jinping has also promised his country would stop funding overseas coal plants.

Yet on Saturday, as more than 200 nations in Glasgow, Scotland, negotiated a climate deal, delegates from China and India watered down language in the agreement on reducing the use of coal, proposing the term “phase down unabated coal” instead of “phase out.” Alok Sharma, president of the U.N. climate summit known as COP26, called on both countries Sunday to “explain themselves.”

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday that differences in development and resources should be “respected.”

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