Observers have welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s announcement that the world’s largest nation will stop funding overseas coal power projects, marking a significant milestone in the decline of the most emissions-intensive fossil fuel.
In a prerecorded announcement to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Xi pledged: “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.”
By any standards, the announcement is a big deal. As of this year, Chinese money made up 56% of public funding for coal power projects around the world, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. European think tank E3G has indicated the pledge could result in the cancellation of some 40 Gigawatts of coal projects under development in 20 countries. Yet other observers noted that that may be a drop in the bucket when it comes to total overseas coal investments from wealthy nations.
Responding to the news, U.K. politician Alok Sharma, president-designate of this year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, tweeted: “It is clear the writing is on the wall for coal power. I welcome President Xi’s commitment to stop building new coal projects abroad—a key topic of my discussions during my visit to China. At #COP26, we must consign coal to history.”
[ David Vetter ]