Agency: Just weeks before a critical U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, attention is riveted on China and whether it will do more to cut emissions.
The world’s top energy agency said last week that China “has the means and capacity” to reduce its emissions. Its actions could be consequential for the planet’s climate.
China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has promised to start reducing carbon dioxide and other gases generated by burning coal, gas and oil by 2030, and to stop financing new coal power plants in other countries. But China is also currently building several huge gas-fired power plants and still plans to build 247 gigawatts of new coal power — nearly six times Germany’s entire coal capacity — according to the U.S. climate envoy John Kerry.
Growth: The additional energy is demanded in China, where its manufacturing sector produces a third of the world’s factory goods. The biggest driver of China’s emissions, however, is its insatiable appetite for steel and cement, which are needed for apartment towers, bullet train lines, subways and other large construction projects.
Incentives: To encourage the use of renewable energy, the Chinese government has ordered electric utilities to charge customers up to five times as much when power is scarce, and generated mainly by coal, as when renewable energy is flooding into the grid.