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Last year, China’s power plants generated more coal than ever before, undercutting efforts to reduce carbon emissions. After last winter’s gas shortage, China’s state-sponsored mining incentive program pushed coal miners to increase output, resulting in a record-breaking year for China’s coal production in 2017. It has helped ease the electricity problem, but coal prices are rising again this year because of the belief that China will need even more coal to sustain its economic growth.
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced in September 2020 that the nation will become carbon neutral by 2060, and his administration began severe measures in the first half of 2021 to achieve that goal. The world’s largest coal producer and consumer established a new monthly high of 384.67 million tonnes of fossil fuel in December, beating the previous mark of 370.84 million tonnes set in November.
According to official government data, China’s annual coal production increased due to the country’s recent coal splurge. A record 4.07bn tonnes of coal was produced in China last year—a 4.7 percent increase over 2012, according to the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), a rise in worldwide demand for energy to jumpstart global economies after the coronavirus pandemic in 2021 will create a record global coal power consumption level in 2021.
It is estimated that by 2021, energy demand would outpace supply, prompting many wealthy nations to rely increasingly heavily on fossil fuel power plants (IEA). A 9 percent rise in coal consumption from the year before fueled the sharpest growth in worldwide energy demand in recent history, according to the IEA’s most recent report, released last week. This increase accounts for more than half of the global increase in power demand.
Just weeks after completing the Cop26 climate change negotiations, China has set a new record for coal use. India successfully intervened at the last minute to tone down the deal’s wording from “phasing out” to “phasing down.” Chinese authorities have said that maintaining stability is a significant priority for 2022. They have committed to taking proactive steps to help develop that goal in mind. In 2021, China’s GDP rose 8.1 percent, exceeding the government’s projections. According to some experts, growth dropped to half that pace in the past quarter and may not increase substantially this year.
According to Communist Party leaders in China, to help the country’s economy expand and generate more employment, they want to prioritize infrastructure spending beginning in 2022. However, fossil fuels are essential for this kind of labor. Cop26 president Alok Sharma said India and China “had to explain themselves to poor countries” after watering down the Glasgow climate accord. Their actions had left him “very dissatisfied” during the negotiations in Glasgow last month.
Even though coal plants in the United States and Europe generated 20% more power last year than in 2020, the IEA determined that electricity consumption remained below levels reported in 2019. Coal-fired power plants are likely to be used less and less in the next year as electricity demand declines and renewable energy sources expand.