Too bad for Chinese commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, China will clearly revive its consumption of coal. Mines located in the north of the country, in Inner Mongolia – a major production region – have received an official note calling for an increase in their production: 98 million tonnes of additional coal, according to the report. Securities Times, official organ of Chinese markets.
Coal accounts for nearly two-thirds of the country’s electricity production and the shortcomings in this area are now obvious. Since the end of September, power cuts are so important that several hundred factories have had to reduce or even stop their production lines, including subcontractors from American firms like Apple or Tesla. In the north of the country, power cuts have even affected the traffic light network of large cities, the elevators of public buildings or the 3G coverage of the mobile telephone network.
Several factors can explain these cuts. First, coal became rarer: there were targets to be met in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions; it was also made more expensive: the restrictions imposed by Beijing on Australian coal imports (due to a severe quarrel between the two countries), added to the increase in the price of coal.
As a result, more than half of China’s provinces and regions had been forced to impose restrictions on energy consumption in recent months. These power cuts come as the country’s economy has largely recovered in the past year and a half, now exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
This revival of coal production risks completely derailing Chinese commitments in terms of limiting greenhouse gases. At the end of last year Xi-Jiping announced that the country would limit its carbon dioxide emissions reducing them by 65% by 2030. This was the announced target and things were closely monitored, especially at the level. local, where intermediate objectives had also been defined province by province.
The fact remains that, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, which oversaw these objectives, only a third of the 30 or so provinces of the country had actually met their targets for reducing their carbon emissions for the first six months of 2021. The commission in September even announced significant fines for the regions and provinces which most exceeded their emission quotas.
However, at the country level, China still produced 10% more energy last August (mainly by burning coal) than the previous year at the same time and 15% more than in 2019 , the most electricity-intensive industries (steel mills, aluminum products, etc.) driving demand.
By ordering the restart of coal production, Beijing seems to have clearly chosen to meet the needs of these industrial producers sacrificing its environmental commitments in the process. China remains – by far – the leading producer of greenhouse gases: it alone accounts for 28% of global emissions.