China has pledged to carbon neutral by 2060, but plans for new coal plants suggest it mass the target, say researchers
SHANGHAI, Nov 20 (Reuters) - China's plan to build more coal-fired power "contradicts" its pledge to go carbon neutral by 2060 and risks creating 2 trillion yuan ($303.60 billion) in stranded assets, according to new research published on Friday.
President Xi Jinping promised in September that China would bring climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions to a peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality 30 years later, committing the country to an accelerated transition to renewable energy.
But Beijing's willingness to build new coal-fired capacity is a key litmus test that will determine whether the targets can be reached, said the Beijing-based consultancy Draworld Environment Research Center and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) in Helsinki.
Industry groups say China needs 1,300 GW of coal-fired capacity to meet growing demand, up from around 1,100 GW now. Around 250 GW is currently being planned.
But China must impose a moratorium on new plants and work to phase out existing ones, with 130 GW already surplus to requirements and "optimal" capacity expected to stand at around 680 GW by 2030, the report said.
"My understanding is that the coal industry is still lobbying for a coal power capacity target for 2025 that would allow for the addition of up to 200 large new coal-fired power plants," said Lauri Myllyvirta, CREA lead analyst.
"Given that half of China's enormous coal capacity is less than 10 years old, and the equivalent of another 100 large plants are already under construction, there is definitely no need for more if the country wants to avoid massive waste of capital," he added.
Xie Zhenhua, senior advisor to the environment ministry, said Monday that China had already restricted financing for coal-related projects and would do so further in the coming five years.
"From the fourteenth five-year plan (2021-2025) we will probably start to restrict and ban the further development of coal and coal-fired power plants," he said.
($1 = 6.5877 yuan) (Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
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