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Chinese investment driving coal consumption across Southeast Asia

April 30, 2021

Radio Free Asia:

Coal is falling out of favor across the developed world because of concerns over pollution and climate change, but it remains a growing energy choice in many parts of Southeast Asia driven by Chinese investment.

While many markets, including the United States, Europe, and East Asia, shift away from coal, Chinese banks, energy and construction companies remain committed to financing and building dozens of plants in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

That’s despite growing concerns about environmental degradation, electricity oversupply, and air pollution. Coal is widely considered the dirtiest fossil fuel for electricity generation, with the highest greenhouse gas emissions, and widespread air, water, and soil quality issues due to mining, burning, and coal waste. 

“For China it’s an easy game. Provide the working capital, build a plant with my own labor force, my own companies, and then the other side will pay me back, so I get my loan back,” said Ghee Peh, a Hong Kong-based coal energy finance analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).  According to IEEFA, most Chinese overseas coal funding utilizes a mostly Chinese labor force, Chinese contractors, and Chinese technology, putting into question how much the local economy actually benefits from these deals. 

[Nithin Coca]

More: Fueled by China, Coal Still Firing in SE Asia Despite Environmental Concerns

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