Beijing, Mar 29 (efe-epa).- Climate watchdog Greenpeace Monday warned of “serious” environmental and financial risks due to the government’s approval of new coal-fired thermal plants in China last year.
Coal-fired plants are one of the most polluting forms of power generation.
Greenpeace said several local Development and Reform Commissions (DRCs) in the country approved a new coal capacity of 46.1 gigawatts (GW) in 2020.
The approvals clash with the promise China made in September to reach carbon neutrality by 2060, the watchdog said in a statement.
The new coal capacity approved in 2020 is 231.6 percent more than in 2019.
It also exceeds the combined coal capacity approved during 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Greenpeace said the warning system established in 2016 by the National Energy Administration to identify regions that need to curb overcapacity was relaxed.
It said the NEA had removed provinces from “red” and “orange” alerts for coal overcapacity that “bears serious financial and environmental risks.”
In 2017, 27 provinces had “red” or “orange” alerts for upcoming overcapacity risks.
A red alert indicates that the construction of new coal projects is not allowed.
Orange indicates overcapacity risks and calls for special attention when approving new projects.
Despite a spree of new-approved coal plants over the past two years, only six were on alert in 2020.
“The spree of new approvals for coal power generating capacity further intensifies the overcapacity, which will present obstacles for China’s energy transition,” said the statement.
Greenpeace called for the industrial transformation of provinces such as Shanxi and Inner Mongolia that coal-linked economies.
However, Greenpeace conceded that “there was a dip in new coal capacity approvals in some provinces during the fourth quarter of 2020” after China announced in September that it would peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
“Stopping the expansion of coal power plants will secure the economy and enhance the credibility of China’s national climate commitments,” Zhang Kai, deputy program director for Greenpeace East Asia in Beijing, said.
The environmental organization data shows that China is the world’s largest consumer of coal.
Coal was responsible for about 60.8 percent of the power generated in the country in 2020. EFE-EPA