10:39 23.10.2019

China boosts coal imports and new mines

Source: The Times
China boosts coal imports and new mines

China is expanding its coal power infrastructure despite pledges to curb carbon emissions.

Analysis reveals that the amount allocated to large infrastructure projects by Beijing has doubled this year, with airports and high-speed rail lines among 21 schemes allocated a total of £83.9 billion.

Included in the new allocations is funding for 17 new coal mines across China, despite Beijing’s pledges to reduce reliance on the power source.

Seven mines were approved last year and, between 2017 and 2018, China added 194 million tonnes of coal mining capacity with the total number of mines reaching more than 3,000.

China, the world’s biggest coal consumer, has vowed to cap carbon emissions by 2030, although it has stopped short of the “net zero” emissions target by 2050 pledged by the European Union.

The move to increase coal production comes as China is expected to announce its five-year energy strategy. The country is in the sixth year of its “war on pollution” to reverse damage done by decades of industrial growth that has left many cities blanketed in smog.

In a speech to China’s National Energy Commission, Li Keqiang, the premier, suggested Beijing was once again turning towards coal, despite government scientists conceding it was the “most dirty energy”.

“Given our country’s bounty of coal resources . . . [we should] promote the safe, green extraction of coal and development of clean and efficient coal,” Mr Li said, according to reports.

Christopher Balding, an economist at the University of Vietnam who studies the Chinese economy, said the new investment in coal infrastructure showed that Beijing was putting short-term growth ahead of environmental commitments.

“Power generation already far outpaces consumption needs,” he said, pointing to the fact that only 45 per cent of China’s coal capacity was utilised.

The naivety of supposed experts, such as Christopher Balding, never ceases to amaze me. China needs lots of these modern, clean coal power stations, so that they can shut down the dirty ones which cause so much pollution.

To confuse this desire to eliminate smog with a willingness to cripple the economy by stopping the use of coal is unfortunately a common mistake amongst many western “experts”.

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