News
 International
   Global Views
   Asia-Pacific
   America
   Europe
   Middle East & Africa
 National
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Business
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Taekwondo
 Media
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Life
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Housing
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 Job
 English Teaching
 Translation/Writing
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Business
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Entertainment
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Community
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 PenPal/Friendship
 Volunteers
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
  America
CSIS Critical Questions
China's Commitment to Stop Overseas Financing of New Coal Plants in Perspective
Special Contribution
By Llaria Mazzocco
China will not build any new coal-fired power plants abroad.

On Sept. 21, 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at the United Nations General Assembly debate that China would not build any new coal-fired power plants abroad and would step up its support for developing green and low-carbon energy in developing countries. He also reiterated the country¡¯s goal to become carbon neutral by 2060 and peak carbon emissions by 2030, targets which he had first announced last year. This new announcement sets the tone for the upcoming UN climate change conference, COP26, which will be held in Glasgow in early November.

Q1: Why does this new climate commitment matter?

A1: Xi Jinping¡¯s speech at last year¡¯s UN General Assembly was noteworthy because it set a timeline for China¡¯s decarbonization. However, in addition to not specifying a peak level of emissions, it also left unanswered the question of whether the country would shoulder the responsibility for climate action outside its borders. China¡¯s role as the largest public financier of coal projects globally has come into particular focus this past year as other governments, such as the G7 members, have pledged to slash their public financing of such projects. There were multiple calls from the international community, including US special envoy for climate John Kerry, for China to end its support for coal projects globally.

While data suggests that China¡¯s financing of new coal-fired power plants has already been declining, with no new projects approved so far this year, the announcement is a new and important development. First, it aligns China¡¯s position with that of other major economies including the United States and the European Union and bolsters the country¡¯s credibility as a climate leader. Second, it provides an unambiguous signal to financial institutions, investors, and companies both outside and within China that coal is no longer a safe investment. Third, consequently, this policy adjustment may help shift investment toward low-carbon projects, a welcome development given the dire need for more resilient infrastructure and low-carbon energy solutions globally.

Q2: Are there loopholes?

A2: While the announcement is a welcome development, it remains open for interpretation until further clarification is provided. While many, including the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, have interpreted the statement to refer to China¡¯s role in financing coal, President Xi said that China would not build newcoal-fired projects (Üôî¢ãæËïÌÑèâØà电项ÙÍ). This leaves the door open for a stricter interpretation that includes financing as well as holding equity, or even state-owned enterprise involvement in construction. But vagueness over the definition of ¡°building¡± or ¡°new¡± may also lend itself to a laxer interpretation that, for example, would allow financing of projects already in the pipeline. According to Boston University¡¯s China¡¯s Global Power Database, China is currently financing projects under construction or in the planning stage that add up to 33.5 gigawatts (GW) of coal capacity.

Finally, many of the world¡¯s coal projects are funded through private rather than public financing. So, if China¡¯s commitment is, as most are interpreting it, limited to state financing, it only does so much to stop the construction of new coal plants. UN Secretary-General Guterres has repeatedly called for a global moratorium on new coal-fired power plants. Such a move would require international coordination and commitment from countries including but not limited to China in providing carbon-neutral alternatives for energy generation in developing countries, among other things.

Q3: Does this mean that John Kerry has succeeded in his diplomatic mission and that his style of engagement with China works?

A3: The Chinese leadership may have timed the unilateral announcement to signal a certain level of goodwill toward the United States and the European Union. In fact, the announcement comes on the heels of a call between President Biden and President Xi and John Kerry¡¯s trip to China in early September and less than a month and a half from the COP26 conference. The Biden administration and EU governments had been mounting pressure on China specifically to put a stop to financing coal overseas.

International pressure, however, only partially explains the announcement, which has been welcomed by many within China, too. The decline in coal plants financed along the Belt and Road this past year suggests that the government had already decided to distance itself from such types of projects. Coal-fired power plants are now less economically competitive than a decade ago thanks to the declining cost of renewables, and they have been politically controversial in some of the countries hosting Chinese projects.

Q4: Does this accelerate China¡¯s commitment to decarbonization at home?

A4: The announcement is not directly related to China¡¯s domestic policy, but it represents a further blow to the coal industry and a powerful signal to domestic actors, including local governments, that the leadership is serious about the clean energy transition. Importantly, Xi Jinping¡¯s announcement indicates that coal-fired projects overseas will not provide an alternative for companies unable to build new plants in China.

However, while the latest announcement is a powerful signal, peaking carbon emissions — and doing so at a relatively low level — will require far more industrial, regulatory, and bureaucratic restructuring than is currently planned. Despite the rapid expansion of renewables over the past decade, coal¡¯s importance in the country¡¯s energy mix, and its politics, is still the biggest hurdle in reducing China¡¯s emissions (see the above graph). Ultimately, China will have to stop building coal-fired power plants at home if it wants to meet its climate goals. More on the country¡¯s decarbonization strategy and whether it will restrict the construction of new coal plants domestically may be revealed over the next few months as more detailed documents are made public.

The above writer, Llaria Mazzocco, is a fellow with the Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.

Critical Questions is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).



Related Articles
    China: The Growing Military Challenge: Volume ...
    The Case for US-Japan-ROK Cooperation on ...
    China Headaches for Iran Nuclear Deal
    The Quad's Strategic Infrastructure Play
    China, Again and Again and Again
    Engaging China on Climate before COP26
    When Will the United States Have a Special ...
    Is Latin America Important to China's Foreign ...
    Chinese National Oil Companies Face the Energy ...
    Four Years On: An Update on Rohingya Crisis
    11th Annual South China Sea Conference: ...
    A Glimpse of Chinese Ballistic Missile ...
    US Defense Chief Austin Accomplishes Two ...
    China¡¯s New National Carbon Trading Market: ...
    Progress Report on China¡¯s Type 003 Carrier
    Geopolitical Implications of Scientific ...
    China¡¯s Third Aircraft Carrier Takes Shape
    Strategic Competition and Foreign Perceptions ...
    Bonny Lin, Ex-RAND Scientist, to Join CSIS
    Beyond Polysilicon: The Ties between China¡¯s ...
    Biden-Moon Summit: Rejuvenating and ...
    S. Korean President Moon Jae-In to Meet with ...
    China¡¯s New Space Station Is a Stepping-Stone ...
    Future Scenarios for Leadership Succession in ...
    How China Affects Global Maritime Connectivity
    What Do Overseas Visits Reveal about China¡¯s ...
    CSIS Commission on the Korean Peninsula: ...
    Reflections on the 10th Anniversary of the ...
    Understanding China¡¯s 2021 Defense Budget
    China¡¯s Opaque Shipyards Should Raise Red ...
    How Developed Is China¡¯s Arms Industry?
    Myanmar¡¯s Military Seizes Power
    A Complex Inheritance: Transitioning to a New ...
    Combatting Human Rights Abuses in Xinjiang
    How Covid-19 Affected US-China Military ...
    Previewing the G-20 and APEC Summits
    Another US-Built Facility at Ream Bites the ...
    Vietnam Currency Investigation: Strategy and ...
    CSIS Press Briefing: U.S. Policy toward Taiwan
    Mapping the Future of U.S. China Policy
    Assessing the Direction of South Korea-Japan ...
    Chinese Investment in the Maldives: Appraising ...
    Dual Circulation and China¡¯s New Hedged ...
    Shinzo Abe¡¯s Decision to Step Down
    A Frozen Line in the Himalayas
    Addressing Forced Labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur ...
    Decoupling Kabuki: Japan¡¯s Effort to Reset, ...
    Remote Control: Japan's Evolving Senkakus ...
    Sil-li Ballistic Missile Support Facility
    China Won¡¯t Be Scared into Choosing ...
    What¡¯s on the Horizon for Covid-19
    Next Steps for the Coronavirus Response
    COVID-19 Threatens Global Food Security
    Geopolitics and the Novel Coronavirus
    Hope for the Climate
    The Novel Coronavirus Outbreak
    What's Inside the US-China Phase One Deal?
    When Iran Attacks
    Ports and Partnerships: Delhi Invests in ...
    Seeking Clues in Case of the Yuemaobinyu 42212
    Signaling Sovereignty: Chinese Patrols at ...
    Red Flags: Why Was China¡¯s Fourth Plenum ...
    Japan and Korea: Rising Above the Fray
    Only US Can Pull Japan, Korea Back from Brink
    China Risks Flare-Up over Malaysian, ...
    Fear Won¡¯t Stop China¡¯s Digital Silk Road
    Japan, N. Korea: Summit, Missiles, Abductions
    ¡°Chinese, Russian Influence in the Middle ...
    Tracking China¡¯s 3rd Aircraft Carrier
    CSIS Scholars Discuss Trump-Abe Summit
    Still Under Pressure: Manila Vs. the Militia
    Is North Korea Preparing for a Military Parade?
    Slow and Steady: Vietnam's Spratly Upgrades
    Sanctions against North Korea: An Unintended ...
    More Is Possible Now to Address North Korea¡¯s ...
    North Korea Reportedly Renews Commitment to ...
    Settling Kurdish Self-Determination in ...
    The Trump Administration¡¯s Trade Objectives ...
    How Is China Securing Its LNG Needs?
    Responding to the Xinjiang Surveillance State ...
    Rethinking U.S. Strategy in the Pacific Islands
    Will the Election Results Turn the Tide on ...
    China, US Choose Between 4 ¡°Cs¡± Conflict, ...
    Shinzo Abe Rolls On
    Necessary Counterterrorism Conversations
    Trade and Wages
    North Korea Begins Dismantling Key Facilities ...
    Negotiating the Right Agreement: Looking ...
    The Korean Civil-Military Balance
    Will Trump-Kim Summit Be Cancelled?
    The Chinese Are Coming! The Chinese Are Coming!
    How Much Have the Chinese Actually Taken?
    The Other Side of N. Korean Threat: Looking ...
    The Other Side of the North Korean, Iranian, ...
    CSIS & Syracuse's Maxwell School Offer ...
    Dr. Sue Mi Terry Joins CSIS as Senior Fellow ...
    EU to Social Media: Regulate or Be Regulated
    Japan¡¯s Lower House Election: Abe Prevails ...
    China and Technology: Tortoise and Hare Again
    "Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia"


 

back

 

 

 

The Seoul Times Shinheungro 25-gil 2-6 Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 82-10-6606-6188 Email:seoultimes@gmail.com
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange