Over the past 18 months the coal-fired capacity outside of China has shrunk, but China continues to drastically increase the amount of coal-fired power plants, according to a study from Global Energy Monitor. China grew their coal-fired plants by 42.9 gigawatts (GW), while the rest of the world saw a decrease of 8.1 GW, averaging out to a net growth of 34.9 GW globally. While the country is a clean energy leader, the amount of coal usage has yet to slow. According to Global Energy Monitor, this large growth of coal is not compatible with the Paris Agreement’s plan to keep global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.
The Paris Agreement is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which focuses on keeping the effects of climate change to a minimum, while equipping the participating countries with the ability to handle the effects of climate change.
China would need to cut coal power use by 40% if it would like to comply with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), another body of the United Nations. However, it seems that China has no intention of slowing down even with the increase of their coal-to-gas initiative. It looks that China’s focus is on getting the most energy for the lowest price as Beijing said that they would only approve of solar and wind power substitutes if the developers can prove it to be as inexpensive as coal. Projections from BP have China remaining as the largest consumer of coal throughout the next few decades.