July 21, 2020 Read More →

Chinese government using coal-fired projects to stimulate coronavirus-stricken economy

South China Morning Post:

Far from treating the coronavirus pandemic as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to speed up decarbonisation and lock in climate goals, there are signs China is falling back on its old playbook of pumping cheap credit into fossil-fuel heavy energy projects to help the economy recover from a historic first quarter contraction.

Following a dramatic plunge in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions at the start of the year, China’s energy sector is roaring back to life. Daily consumption of coal, oil and gas in June was on par with the previous year, according to the government, and analysts say carbon emissions have bounced back to pre-coronavirus levels.

It may still be too early to say where energy use and emissions are heading in 2020, but the environmental detox that followed months of sweeping lockdowns appears to be over. 

“Provincial interests always see a lot of job creation, they see an opportunity to create value. So they have very, very strong short- and medium-term motivations to try to get coal-fired power projects back on the plan,” said Melissa Brown, the director of energy finance studies, Asia, at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

“In the meantime, you’ve got a lot of long-term, thoughtful players [in Beijing] that look after the power sector, look after climate change and economic planning, who see the structure of the debate about the power sector in very different terms.”

[Harry Pearl]

More: China’s coronavirus recovery drives boom in coal plants, casting doubt over commitments to cut fossil fuels

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