Agency: China’s electricity shortage is rippling across factories and industries. Authorities announced on Wednesday a rush to mine and burn more coal in response, despite their previous pledges to curb emissions.
Mines that were closed without authorization have been ordered to reopen, along with mines and coal-fired power plants that were shut for repairs. Local governments have been warned to be cautious about limits on energy use.
The shortage laid bare a strategic weakness: China is a voracious energy hog and the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. It also called into question whether Beijing can deliver strong economic growth.
Context: China depends on inefficient factories in energy-hungry industries like steel, cement and chemicals, but it practically stopped new coal investments in 2016 amid sustainability concerns. With rising demand as the pandemic eases, prices have jumped. Power plants were losing money, so they ran at lower capacity.
What’s next: The winter heating season officially begins on Friday in the country’s northeast. China’s biggest provinces have only nine to 14 days worth of coal in storage, according a coal data firm.