China’s new coal plants risk 2060 climate target, researchers say

A coal mine in northern China’s Shanxi province. China must stop building new coal power plants and increase its wind and solar capacity if it wants to become carbon neutral by 2060, experts say. (AFP)
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Updated 21 November 2020

China’s new coal plants risk 2060 climate target, researchers say

  • ‘Coal power should be phased out rapidly in a cost-effective manner’

BEIJING: China must stop building new coal power plants and ramp up its wind and solar capacity if it wants to become carbon neutral by 2060, researchers said on Friday.
A new report published by the Helsinki-based Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air warned that overcapacity of existing plants and new ones being built mean it will be hard for Beijing to meet the much-lauded climate goal promised by President Xi Jinping earlier this year.
The research organization called for the Chinese government to shut down all new coal-fired power plants built from 2020 and double the growth of wind and solar power in the next decade.
The country should aim to whittle its coal fleet down to about 680 gigawatts by 2030 — instead of current plans to expand it to about 1,300 gigawatts, it said.
Without proper policy intervention to retire these surplus plants early and halt the construction of new ones, the researchers claimed the level of carbon dioxide
emitted by China would show almost no reduction compared to this year’s level.
“The power section needs to achieve zero emissions as soon as possible,” the report said. “Coal power should be phased out rapidly in a cost-effective manner.”
As part of the plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2060, China also pledged to reach its peak carbon emissions by 2030, which researchers claim needs coal-fired power to start reducing almost immediately.
“As long as coal consumption continues to drop significantly, peaking carbon emissions before 2030 will be a relatively
achievable goal,” Yuan Jiahai, Professor at North China Electric Power University, said in the report.
One way to reach this target, the report says, is to set a high carbon price in the carbon trading market, in turn incentivising the carbon-emitters to reduce coal-fired power generation.
The report also called for coordination among the Chinese government, think tanks and other NGOs to ensure the visibility and transparency of the process.
China’s carbon promise, announced in September in a speech by Xi to the UN, came as a surprise as Beijing has relied heavily on coal to spur its economic emergence from poverty to superpower status over the past few decades.


US sanctions Chinese and Russian firms over Iran trade

Updated 29 November 2020

US sanctions Chinese and Russian firms over Iran trade

  • Four companies accused of ‘transferring sensitive technology and items’ to missile program

LONDON: The US has slapped economic sanctions on four Chinese and Russian companies that Washington claims helped to support Iran’s missile program.

The four were accused of “transferring sensitive technology and items to Iran’s missile program” and will be subject to restrictions on US government aid and their exports for two years, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

The sanctions, imposed on Wednesday, were against two Chinese-based companies, Chengdu Best New Materials and Zibo Elim Trade, as well as Russia’s Nilco Group and joint stock company Elecon.

“These measures are part of our response to Iran’s malign activities,” said Pompeo. “These determinations underscore the continuing need for all countries to remain vigilant to efforts by Iran to advance its missile program. We will continue to work to impede Iran’s missile development efforts and use our sanctions authorities to spotlight the foreign suppliers, such as these entities in the PRC and Russia, that provide missile-related materials and technology to Iran.”

The Trump administration has ramped up sanctions on Tehran after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

Earlier this week, Pompeo met Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, when the campaign of pressure on the Iranian regime was also discussed.

“I want to thank Kuwait for its support of the maximum pressure campaign. Together, we are denying Tehran money, resources, wealth, weapons with which they would be able to commit terror acts all across the region,” he said.

It is not yet clear how the incoming administration of Joe Biden will deal with Tehran and whether it wants to revive the nuclear deal which would be key reviving the country’s battered economy. The Iranian rial has lost about half of its value this year against the dollar, fueling inflation and deepening the damage to the economy.

Iran’s economy would grow as much as 4.4 percent next year if sanctions were lifted, the Institute of International Finance (IIF) said last week. 

The economy is expected to contract by about 6.1 percent in 2020 according to IIF estimates.