Despite a decline in approvals, local planning agencies still greenlit 24 new coal-fired power plants in the first six months of 2021, the green group said
SHANGHAI, Aug 25 (Reuters) - China's provinces are still planning to launch more than 100 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power capacity despite a decline in new approvals in the first half of 2021, environmental group Greenpeace said on Wednesday.
Local planning agencies approved 24 new coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 5.2 GW in the first six months of 2021, Greenpeace said.
The figure is down nearly 80% from a year earlier, when new projects surged to help China's post-lockdown recovery, but it puts total planned capacity on China's provincial project lists at 104.8 GW, it said - enough to power the whole of the United Kingdom.
Earlier this month, a U.N. climate panel said global warming is dangerously close to spiralling out of control and urged immediate, rapid and large-scale action to reduce emissions.
China, the world's biggest energy consumer and source of climate-warming greenhouse gas, has said it aims to bring carbon emissions to a peak by 2030 and to net zero by 2060.
However, it will not start cutting coal consumption until 2026. Up to then, the central government has pledged to "control" the number of new coal projects going into operation.
"'Control' doesn't necessarily mean not approving new coal power plants, so we are still seeing new approvals," said Li Danqing, a Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner in Beijing, adding that local authorities still have the power to launch projects without Beijing's authorisation.
"The dynamic between the central and local government is still the core problem," Li said. "That's why we are advocating that the central government should supervise tightly and carry out specific policies to control the expansion of coal power capacity."
The total 104.8 GW figure includes plants that have been approved and gone into construction as well as those still at the planning stage. It remains uncertain how many will be completed.
The provinces with the most planned projects are Shaanxi, Guangdong, Gansu and Guizhou. The provinces of Shandong, Fujian and Zhejiang, all on China's eastern coast, have no coal power plants in their project pipelines, Greenpeace said.
(Reporting by David Stanway; editing by Richard Pullin)
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