China has pledged to stop building overseas coal-fired power plants to help the world transition to a low-carbon future, a move that won praise from energy experts for its climate benefits but leaves question marks over how it will be fulfilled.
Less than six weeks away from the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the United Nations General Assembly that the country will withdraw from building coal-fired projects in other nations.
“China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad,” Xi said in a pre-recorded video address 21 September.
However, crucial details were left out on how and when the country will halt its involvement in such projects. It is not clear whether Xi was referring to all plants that have yet to be built, or those without firm financing or engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) deals with Chinese firms.
Beijing often gradually releases policy details after Xi unveils a rough blueprint. During the annual meeting last year, Xi revealed China’s emission targets to help mitigate climate change under the Paris Agreement policy framework. The Chinese government ushered in a series of measures, including a national emissions trading scheme, in the following months.